December 17, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Fire With Fire

Current Status
In Season
Naomi Wolf
Women's Studies
We gave it a B-

Gals! Thought of checking out feminism but afraid it was too messy, too hairy, too much the province of lesbians, man haters, and women who can’t get dates? Guys! Put off by angry chicks who want to Take Back the Night? Here’s something for you: Fire With Fire. It’s this neat new book by Naomi Wolf, the pretty, straight, recently glamorously married author of The Beauty Myth, and it’s about feminism. But it’s, like, about friendly, sexy, I’m-Okay-You’re-Okay feminism, where everyone is included and everyone feels good and everyone gets to be the best (and most empowered and most attractive) she-and, by association, he-can be.

One really excellent thing about the book is that it’s not one of those dull, scholarly things that give you a big case of the zzzzz’s. Wolf is really up on pop culture, so she is able to intersperse her many well-researched facts and stats with references to books and movies like The First Wives Club and Thelma & Louise. The author’s message is that today’s feminism doesn’t have to get bogged down in feelings of anger; it isn’t about nitpicking the fine points of ideology; and it isn’t about ”victim feminism,” as she calls it. Rather, Wolf advocates a hip, happy ”power feminism,” which means ”learning from Madonna, Spike Lee, and Bill Cosby: If you don’t like your group’s image in the media, decide on another image and seize control of the means of producing it.” Cool!

Best of all, Fire With Fire is so full of disarming confessions on the part of the author that it is impossible not to want her as your best friend. ”Much as I admire Gloria Steinem, it is stopping short of full respect for other women’s choices to call a Republican female senator ‘a female impersonator,”’ she writes, with guts. ”Male sexual attention is the sun in which I bloom,” she writes, with sexiness. ”Beware your dreams: They might come true,” she quotes as a Yiddish proverb, this smart, gorgeous girl you can bring home to Mom.

In fact, you can bring this book home to Mom. It is Naomi Wolf’s Life’s Little Feminist Instruction Book. You will find absolutely nothing in it with which to disagree, except, possibly, her use of the word genderquake to connote the feminist-fueled political upheaval that followed the Clarence Thomas hearings. The term sounds an awful lot like youthquake, which Vogue magazine coined in the ’60s, and which is probably not a coincidence, since Fire With Fire has all of the heft of a helpful, inspirational Cosmo or GQ article-only longer, and without the fashions. B-

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