Cover Image: Mean Girl Feminism

Mean Girl Feminism

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was an interesting book on feminism has changed in its presentation, especially for white women and especially online. I enjoyed reading this but it was kind of hard and a bit muddled and too academic at times. 2.5/5

Was this review helpful?

In this scholarly work from the University of Illinois Press’ Feminist Media Studies book series, Kim Hong Nguyen examines the idea of ‘mean girl feminism’, in which white women take on particular roles that appear to be feminist, but upon further examination these roles do little but further the individual woman’s status in a particular in-group while failing to address systemic issues affecting their communities.

These ‘mean girl’ roles also fail to consider intersectionality and thus do nothing to aid women of color, transgender women, or anyone else who isn’t part of that specific white in-group. By gaslighting, gatekeeping, and girl bossing (to quote a popular phrase from the social media site Tumblr), many white women use ideas of feminism to make themselves into the victim and make it appear as though their apparent victories against patriarchy serve the greater good, when in fact these victories often serve instead to uphold patriarchal norms. Thanks to gatekeeping, white women often use their status as both a persecuted group (under patriarchy) and a privileged group (white, in a racist system) to keep people of color- particularly women- from gaining an advantage that might help further the cause of equality for all. White women have done this so often by doing things like calling the police on Black men who were out birdwatching or barbecuing in their own backyards, and then acting as though they, the white women, were somehow under attack from a threatening person, the Black person minding their own business. These are just a few of the examples that Nguyen examines in her work. The list continues, citing real-world situations and drawing upon pop culture to illustrate the points.

Divided into four sections, Mean Girl Feminism provides a clear-eyed look at the ways that modern white feminism has taken ideas from feminists of color in the past- often without properly crediting them- and then fails to address the genuine challenges women of color and transgender women face. White feminism also often fails to draw upon community values and seeks instead to promote the individual women who succeed at appearing to win at feminism without really challenging the patriarchal norms that plague all of us. Mean Girl Feminism is not a comfortable read, nor is it an easy one, but if we wish to advance the rights and well-being of all women, it is necessary to face the discomfort and accept that the work of advancing equality is uncomfortable and difficult, but worth it in the end.

Was this review helpful?

"Mean Girl Feminism" was an interesting read and a different take on present day feminism. Modern day with online and different types of “mean girls” was informative.

Author, Kim Hong Nguyen broke down the mean girl feminist into categories. Bitch feminism, Mean Girl feminism, the Power Couple feminism, and Global Mother feminism. Interesting dynamic and a glimpse into current feminism.

Was this review helpful?

i found this to be pretty thin overall - lots of stuff about white feminism repackaged as mean girl feminism, but i've read more expansively about white feminism and the connections felt superfluous overall. the pop culture-y stuff was slightly gimmicky as well. there are more productive takes to read i think!

Was this review helpful?

While the content of Mean Girl Feminism is so important and informative, however the writing was a bit muddled. Its not an easy read but I still enjoyed it.

Was this review helpful?

This book offers a sharp critique of specific feminist tropes in popular culture, arguing they exploit and distort experiences of marginalized groups for personal gain. Through the lens of "mean girl feminism," Nguyen offers that these performances ultimately reinforce existing power structures, hindering genuine progress towards intersectional liberation.

Was this review helpful?

This was such an interesting title, I had to pick it up! It was an interesting and thought provoking look into what it means to be a white feminist in today's world, and the unconscious biases that need to be worked on within the feminist movement.

The book does read a bit more scholarly than others, which may make it somewhat harder to read.

Thanks to University of Illinois Press and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

Was this review helpful?

Readers should be warned that this is an academic book coming from an academic publisher. It is a bit challenging to parse, as this area of theory is something I'm hardly familiar with, but it is well worth pushing through the challenge. Kim Hong Nguyen has a lot of great ideas here, and I loved not only learning a lot but also recognizing some ideas I'm familiar with written in a much more eloquent way than I've ever been able to put them.

Was this review helpful?

dnf chapter 2
So this might be on me, but when I requested this book I was kind of under the impression that this would be a lighthearted satire/comedy poking fun at white feminism, but this turned out to be a legit thesis paper kind of thing??? And there's nothing wrong with that, its just that the bright pink cover and the title made me think otherwise, so I went into this expecting witty take-downs of girlboss feminists, and got this instead. Anyway, for the rest of this review keep in mind that I don't read serious research papers ever, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.
This book is full of citations, which may be normal for a research paper, but was just tedious to read. I feel like this book contained more citations than the author's own thoughts, which had to backed up with citations too. And the introduction was incredibly long, it introduces the main concept of this book, which is the different categories of "mean girl feminists", then immediately begins dissecting each category, and this is all in the introduction chapter. Which is a pity, because I agree with a lot of the points of this book, but I just couldn't get through this.
Moving on to the contents, I think the author makes excellent points about the pitfalls of white feminism, from the way white feminists weaponise white femininity against POC, to the "gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss" mentality white feminists embody. However, something I have to question is who this book is even for? I don't see white feminists being interested in picking this up, and the concepts introduced in this book aren't new to women of colour. Not to mention that this text is pretty dense, which creates an additional barrier of inaccessibility.

Was this review helpful?

I really love the cover of this book but the inside of it didn’t have the same impact for me. This book took me awhile to read because it was more academic than I was anticipating.

Was this review helpful?

A very well researched piece of work looking at how feminism interacts with intersectionality, though perhaps more academic essay than book. I enjoyed the pop culture references (I was very proud to recognise them all!) and reflecting on them in a new light was eye-opening. At times however, it seemed a little disjointed with some jumps, and the text didn’t necessarily flow logically.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to University of Illinois Press and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

In "Mean Girl Feminism" by Kim Hong Nguyen, readers are confronted with a scholarly work that delves into the intricacies of contemporary feminist discourse. Despite its misleading cover that might suggest a more accessible narrative, the book is a dense exploration requiring a keen intellectual engagement.

Nguyen skillfully weaves through layers of theory, laden with numerous scholarly citations and pop culture references. For those accustomed to scholarly reviews, this text demands an attentive reader ready to navigate the intricate web of ideas presented.

It's essential to note that the book may, at times, feel inaccessible to a broader audience, and even seasoned readers might find themselves grappling with the scholarly depth. However, amidst this labyrinth, Nguyen's work raises crucial discussions that demand our attention. The author delves into pertinent issues within feminism, urging readers to hold themselves and the movement accountable. By dissecting these complex topics, Nguyen encourages a continuous dialogue, emphasizing the importance of ongoing scrutiny and self-reflection within feminist discourse.

In essence, "Mean Girl Feminism" presents a challenging but vital contribution to feminist literature. While its dense nature may pose hurdles, the book serves as a reminder of the necessity to engage in nuanced discussions within the feminist movement.

Was this review helpful?

While this typically isn't the type of book I would reach for (I tend to opt for mysteries and memoirs), the cover and title were intriguing enough for me to opt for something different.

A timely read, this offers a unique perspective on feminism, particularly how white women can avoid failing women who are often marginalized. The pop culture approach of breaking the book down into four white girl feminist tropes adds a little levity to what is actually a dense study on modern feminism. The pink cover and title should not fool readers; this is a book meant to be thoughtfully read and considered.

This book is recommended for anyone looking to take a dive into current social issues regarding feminism.

Was this review helpful?

Woah! This was a breathe of fresh air that I didn't know I needed. Incredibly insightful and eye-opening. I recommend this to all women whether of color or white, it's a must read for this day in age.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley for this opportunity.

This book is nearly impossible to read. It feels like reading an essay more than a nonfiction book. It uses the same buzzwords repeatedly to the point where you can get lost on the page. I feel like the author was making good points but it was hard to see them through her delivery.

Was this review helpful?

An interesting analysis of how white feminism can be misguided in what it is promoting and standing for. A little technical at times, but still thought provoking

Was this review helpful?

It seems that the author deliberately made the text dense to sound more serious. This was hard to read.
I have a habit of looking up things that I can look up, to know more about them. In the beginning of the book, there is a story about how Taylor Swift is mean because of a story where it says she lied about giving permission to talk about her very crudely in a song. The story in the book is that she denied it and then a tape was released proving she was a liar, but I found out in about two minutes that the tape was edited to make her look like she said something she didn't. Why leave in a story that isn't really true to make the point?
I also found the entire premise wrong. Blaming women for being "bitches" isn't realistic. It really presumes a lot about their power.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this

Was this review helpful?

I'm giving this 3 stars because anything less doesn't feel fair. This book is written more like an educational text vs a book you can read casually.

Was this review helpful?

I am so thankful to the University of Illinois Press, Kim Hong Nguyen, and Netgalley for granting me advanced digital access to Mean Girl Feminism: How White Feminists Gaslight, Gatekeep, and Girlboss before this psychologically interpreted exposé hits shelves on January 9, 2024.

From comparisons in media and pop culture, our author reveals how white women have been putting on a show in the name of being accepted by a group they don’t even want to be a part of, because they are all talk and a lot of bite, as their performativity and meanness projects a clearer message than their feminism.

From toxic patriarchal-conveying power couples such as Hillary and Bill, to Hillary never standing up for herself and women every way to keep face to fictional examples such as Chuck and Blair and Dan and Serena from Gossip Girl, this book has everything to convince you that a majority of white women suck and I hate to be associated with them.

Was this review helpful?

Very interesting but rather dull at times. I thought the content was compelling and an important message for people to read, but the writing could've been more engaging.

Was this review helpful?