Not Really Super

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ETA: Slate XX Factor readers, go here.

The latest issue of Ms. Magazine has Barack Obama in a Superman pose, wearing a tee shirt that says “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE,” as follows:

Obama can greatly advance the status of women during his Presidency, and I very much hope he will. But I don’t remember hearing Barack Obama describe himself as a feminist, though maybe I missed something.   This seems designed to mock people who supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primary.   Why does Ms. want to do that now? Polling data shows persuasively that most Clinton primary supporters voted for Obama in the general election.   I think the magazine cover was a really bad idea.

–Ann Bartow

ETA: Katha Pollitt has written that Obama has the potential to be feminist President, and I agree. So maybe in a year or two the cover would be appropriate. But not now.

ETA2: Ms. representatives explain the cover here, and assert that Obama said privately that he is a feminist.

ETA3: In 1972, the cover of Ms. featured Wonder Woman with the tag line “Wonder Woman for President”:


In 2008, Wonder Woman was on the cover of Playboy, and Ms. is instead symbolically looking to a male superhero to “rescue” feminism?   Very problematic imagery, in my view.

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0 Responses to Not Really Super

  1. fourthwave says:

    I find this cover really baffling. And a little insulting. Have you read the issue? I wonder if it mitigates (or at least explains?) the cover somewhat…

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    One can hope something in the issue explains the cover. I have not read it. My first reaction upon seeing the cover was to remember Tania Modleski’s book, “Feminism Without Women: Culture and Criticism in a Postfeminist Age” which you should read if you haven’t.

  3. fourthwave says:

    Regardless of the magazine’s explanation, I still think the cover is problematic, as you say, but it does help quell some of my immediate annoyance. I’ll have to check out the issue itself before judging further!

    I have read Modleski. She’s fantastic.

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  7. Nidan says:

    This begs the question: how should Ms. have presented the president-elect on the cover, as a fem-positive guy? I will note here that controversy sells. No doubt the editors at Ms. are aware of this.

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  9. fourthwave says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen Jezebel’s obnoxiously-glib response to your post? And Shakesville’s much more thoughtful response to Jezebel’s response?

  10. Ann Bartow says:

    Melissa McEwan at Shakesville is fantastic, as usual. Megan at Jezebel, well, her post, and decision to run one sentence from the above post out of context, speaks for itself. The commenters who actually came over and read the post in full can see what a hatchet job she did.

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