Cosmo Editor Breathed Fun Into Feminism

Helen Gurley Brown made movement sexy and smart
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2009 4:35 PM CDT
Feminists are indebted to Helen Gurley Brown, Naomi Wolf argues.   (AP Photo/Feinstein's at the Regency, Marion Curtis)
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(Newser) – For proof of the burgeoning reconciliation between second- and third-wave feminism, look no further than Michelle Obama, who thrives as a thinking woman's fashionista. For that, Obama and other feminists can thank Helen Gurley Brown, Naomi Wolf argues in a Washington Post review of Bad Girls Go Everywhere, Jennifer Scanlon’s biography of the former Cosmo editor.

The second wave, epitomized by Betty Friedan, was a humorless, sometimes intolerant movement, but Brown’s third wave made feminism—and sex—fun, Wolf argues. Still, “a saucy tattoo and a condom do not a revolution make,” concedes Wolf, who hopes for a Friedan-Brown synthesis: “If Michelle Obama's generation is getting closer, maybe Sasha's and Malia's generation will find it at last.”