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Wolf Demands An Apology, Chesler Won’t Back Down By: Phyllis Chesler
Pajamas Media | Thursday, September 03, 2009


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It seems that Naomi Wolf is quite upset by what I’ve written yesterday. She has posted a comment at my blog, written to me privately (below), left a message in my office and written to at least one website that linked to my blog. I am answering her here.

Dear Naomi:

Hello and I hope you are well too. My piece is not a personal attack. Please don’t take it as such. It is a political and intellectual critique of what you wrote. There are no “terrible inaccuracies” in what I’ve written or in how I’ve conveyed the general tenor of your article. Your demand that I print a “correction” and issue an “apology” is uncalled for as is your offer to go over my mistakes with me, point by point, on the phone or in a debate. I dare say, this last bit is a wee bit arrogant and frightening.

One woman’s “mistake” is another woman’s “opinion.”

I now understand that you’ve left a phone message in my office, posted a letter at my blogsite at Pajamas Media, written to me privately, and also written to Frontpage Magazine which has linked to my piece today.

Are you going to track down every site that linked to this piece as well?

For a moment I thought: Maybe I only imagined that you’d been advising Vice President Gore on his image, maybe you really were deeply involved in substantive policy issues. Maybe this is the one correction I might have to make. The 1999 New York Times piece (but your husband works there) did suggest that you were involved in policy issues relating to female voting.

And yet: I could not forget reading that you were advising Gore about what colors to wear (earth-colored tones is what I remember) for his Presidential campaign. Indeed, I was right. Both Jake Tapper at Salon and Jodi Kantor at Slate had pieces about this. Here is what Jodi Kantor wrote in Slate.

Eight years later, Wolf has become an image consultant herself. As Time reported earlier this week, Vice President Al Gore paid Wolf thousands of dollars a month for advice on presentation, from the tones of his speeches to the color tones of his wardrobe. The Washington Post relayed that Wolf “has long contended that earth tones are more ‘reassuring’ to audiences” and that she is “the person behind Gore’s recent wardrobe change.”

Wolf’s non-sartorial advice to Gore–and to President Clinton before him, as an unpaid adviser–is even stranger. She coached each to emphasize his manly strengths, relying on hoary, tired gender stereotypes. She reportedly told Gore that he is the “beta male” who must fight Clinton’s “alpha male” for dominance. And as an adviser to the Clinton White House, she informed the president that the nation was searching for a “good-father role model” to “build a house” for the country. “I will not let anyone or anything touch the bedrock,” Wolf wrote in one memo for him. “I will DEFEND/PROTECT the foundation.” This came only three years after the publication of her book Fire With Fire, in which she savaged Republican spin doctors for positioning George Bush as “the reassuring arch-patriarch.

The New York Times piece also tell us that you also advised President Clinton or rather, that you regularly talked to Dick Morris during the Clinton Presidency. (Your husband wrote speeches for Clinton).

To continue reading this article, click here.


Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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