Jennifer Scanlon is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. Her research interests include women's and feminist history, women's relationships to social movements, biography, and consumer culture. An award-winning teacher and scholar, she is the author of Until There Is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman (2016), Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown (2009), and Inarticulate Longings: The Ladies' Home Journal, Gender, and the Promises of Consumer Culture (1995), and the editor of Significant Contemporary American Feminists (1999) and The Gender and Consumer Culture Reader (2000). She has also written many scholarly articles on women's and girls' cultural and consumer practices. Among other accolades, Bad Girls Go Everywhere was named a "Book of the Times" by the New York Times, "Book of the Week" by The Week, and Business Book of the Year by Marketplace.
Women, sexuality, print culture, biography, social movements topic Historians and cultural critics have, to a degree, followed the lead of the media in declaring feminism’s second wave as anti-sex, or, perhaps, “anti-sexy.” Doing so provides a neat contrast between the second wave and the so-called “third wave” of feminism, but it also provides an incomplete, problematic narrative. Nearly four decades before Sex and the City provided television viewers with explicit permission to claim both femininity and feminism, Helen Gurley Brown’s primer, Sex and the Single Girl, became an immediate—and international—feminist sensation. In her book and then as editor of Cosmopolitan, the magazine that continues to foster the philosophy Brown first introduced in 1965, Helen Gurley Brown articulated a set of ideas about women’s bodies, desires, and behaviors. As this talk demonstrates, her influential and controversial approach provided one of the most significant blueprints for what has emerged in recent years as the third wave of feminism.