Wolf at the 2012 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas
|Born||November 12, 1962|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, Journalist, Activist, Public Speaker, Business Owner|
|Alma mater||Yale University|
New College, Oxford
|Notable works||The Beauty Myth|
The End of America
"Fire with Fire"
Wolf first came to prominence in 1991 as the author of The Beauty Myth. With the book, she became a leading spokeswoman of what was later described as the third wave of the feminist movement. Such leading feminists as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan praised the book; others, including Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers, criticized it. She has since written other books, including the bestseller The End of America in 2007 and Vagina: A New Biography. Critics have challenged the quality and veracity of the scholarship in several of her books, most recently in June 2019 concerning her serious misreading of court records in Outrages (see “Criticism,” below).
Her journalism career began in 1995 and has included topics such as abortion, the Occupy Wall Street movement, Edward Snowden and ISIS. She has written for media outlets such as The Nation, The New Republic, The Guardian and The Huffington Post.
- 1 Childhood, education and personal life
- 2 Works
- 3 Feminist positions
- 4 Alleged sexual encroachment incident at Yale
- 5 Political consultant
- 6 Occupy Wall Street
- 7 Criticism
- 8 Selected works
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Childhood, education and personal life
Wolf was born in San Francisco, to a Jewish family. Her mother is Deborah Goleman, an anthropologist and the author of The Lesbian Community. Her father was Leonard Wolf, a Romanian-born gothic horror scholar at University of California, Berkeley and Yiddish translator. Leonard Wolf died from advanced Parkinson's Disease on March 20, 2019. Wolf attended Lowell High School and debated in regional speech tournaments as a member of the Lowell Forensic Society.
Wolf was married to journalist David Shipley. They have two children, Rosa and Joseph. Wolf and Shipley divorced in 2005. In November 2018 Wolf married Brian O'Shea, a disabled U.S. Army Veteran, private detective, and owner of Striker Pierce Investigations. According to a New York Times article published in November 2018, Wolf and O'Shea met in 2014 due to threats against Wolf after reporting on human rights violations in the Middle East. The two currently live in New York, New York.
Wolf ultimately returned to Oxford, completing her Doctor of Philosophy degree in English literature in 2015. Her thesis, supervised by Dr. Stefano Evangelista of Trinity College, formed the basis for her 2019 book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love.
The Beauty Myth
In 1991 Wolf gained international fame as a spokeswoman of third-wave feminism as a result of the success of her first book The Beauty Myth, which became an international bestseller and was named "one of the seventy most influential books of the twentieth century" by The New York Times. In the book, she argues that "beauty" as a normative value is entirely socially constructed, and that the patriarchy determines the content of that construction with the goal of reproducing its own hegemony.
Wolf posits the idea of an "iron-maiden", an intrinsically unattainable standard that is then used to punish women physically and psychologically for their failure to achieve and conform to it. Wolf criticized the fashion and beauty industries as exploitative of women, but added that the beauty myth extended into all areas of human functioning. Wolf writes that women should have "the choice to do whatever we want with our faces and bodies without being punished by an ideology that is using attitudes, economic pressure, and even legal judgments regarding women's appearance to undermine us psychologically and politically". Wolf argues that women were under assault by the "beauty myth" in five areas: work, religion, sex, violence, and hunger. Ultimately, Wolf argues for a relaxation of normative standards of beauty. In her introduction, Wolf positioned her argument against the concerns of second-wave feminists and offered the following analysis:
The more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us ... [D]uring the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty ... [P]ornography became the main media category, ahead of legitimate films and records combined, and thirty-three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal ... More women have more money and power and scope and legal recognition than we have ever had before; but in terms of how we feel about ourselves physically, we may actually be worse off than our unliberated grandmothers.
The Beauty Myth was a bestseller, receiving polarized responses from the public and mainstream media, but winning praise from most feminists. Second-wave feminist Germaine Greer wrote that The Beauty Myth was "the most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch", and Gloria Steinem wrote, "The Beauty Myth is a smart, angry, insightful book, and a clarion call to freedom. Every woman should read it." British novelist Fay Weldon called the book "essential reading for the New Woman". Betty Friedan wrote in Allure magazine that "'The Beauty Myth' and the controversy it is eliciting could be a hopeful sign of a new surge of feminist consciousness."
However, Camille Paglia, whose Sexual Personae was published the same year as The Beauty Myth, derided Wolf as unable to perform "historical analysis", and called her education "completely removed from reality." Her comments touched off a series of contentious debates between Wolf and Paglia in the pages of The New Republic.
Likewise, Christina Hoff Sommers criticized Wolf for publishing the estimate that 150,000 women were dying every year from anorexia. Sommers states that she tracked down the source to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association who stated that they were misquoted; the figure refers to sufferers, not fatalities. Wolf's citation for the incorrect figure came from a book by Brumberg, who referred to an American Anorexia and Bulimia Association newsletter and misquoted the newsletter. Wolf accepted the error and changed it in future editions. Sommers gave an estimate for the number of fatalities in 1990 as 100–400. Others have estimated the annual anorexia casualties in the mid-1990s around 50 to 60 per year.
The New York Times published a harshly critical assessment of Wolf's work by Caryn James. James lambasted the book as a "sloppily researched polemic as dismissible as a hackneyed adventure film ... Even by the standards of pop-cultural feminist studies, The Beauty Myth is a mess." James called the statistics Wolfe cited, "shamefully secondhand and outdated. In a comparatively positive review, The Washington Post called the book "persuasive" and praised its "accumulated evidence".
Caspar Schoemaker of the Netherlands Trimbos Institute published a paper in the academic journal Eating disorders demonstrating that of the 23 statistics cited by Wolfe in Beauth Myth, 18 were incorrect, with Wolfe citing numbers that average out to 8 times the number in the scource she was citing. For example, Wolf wrote that 7.5% of girls and women have anexoria, the accurate figure is 0.065%.
Revisiting Beauty Myth in 2019 for The New Republic, literary critic Maris Kreizman recalls that reading it as an undergraduate made her "world burst open." It "remains one of the most formative books in (Kreizman's) life." However, as she matured, Kreizman saw Wolfe's books as "poorly argued tracts" that made "wilder and wilder assertions" even, in 2014, spreading a conspiracy theory that the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by ISIS were "faked and staged." Kreizman "began to write (Wolf) off as a fringe character" despite the fact that she had "once informed my own feminism so deeply."
Fire with Fire
In 1993 Wolf published Fire with Fire on politics, female empowerment and women's sexual liberation. In the U.S. The New York Times assailed the work for its "dubious oversimplifications and highly debatable assertions" and its "disconcerting penchant for inflationary prose," nonetheless noting Wolf's "efforts to articulate an accessible, pragmatic feminism, ... helping to replace strident dogma with common sense." The Time magazine reviewer dismissed the book as "flawed," noting however that Wolf was "an engaging raconteur" who was also "savvy about the role of TV – especially the Thomas-Hill hearings and daytime talk shows – in radicalizing women, including homemakers." The reviewer characterized the book as advocating an inclusive strain of feminism that welcomed abortion opponents. In the UK, feminist author Natasha Walter writing in The Independent said that the book "has its faults, but compared with The Beauty Myth it has energy and spirit, and generosity too." But she also criticized it for having a "narrow agenda" where "you will look in vain for much discussion of older women, of black women, of women with low incomes, of mothers." Characterizing Wolf as a "media star", Walter wrote: "She is particularly good, naturally, on the role of women in the media."
Promiscuities reports on and analyzes the shifting patterns of contemporary adolescent sexuality. Wolf argues that literature is rife with examples of male coming-of-age stories, covered autobiographically by D. H. Lawrence, Tobias Wolff, J. D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway, and covered misogynistically by Henry Miller, Philip Roth and Norman Mailer. Wolf insists, however, that female accounts of adolescent sexuality have been systematically suppressed. She adduces cross-cultural material to demonstrate that women have, across history, been celebrated as more carnal than men. Wolf also argues that women must reclaim the legitimacy of their own sexuality by shattering the polarization of women between virgin and whore.
Promiscuities received, in general, negative reviews. A New York Times review characterized Wolf as a "frustratingly inept messenger: a sloppy thinker and incompetent writer. She tries in vain to pass off tired observations as radical aperçus, subjective musings as generational truths, sappy suggestions as useful ideas". Two days earlier, however, a different Times reviewer praised the book, writing, "Anyone—particularly anyone who, like Ms. Wolf, was born in the 1960s—will have a very hard time putting down Promiscuities. Told through a series of confessions, her book is a searing and thoroughly fascinating exploration of the complex wildlife of female sexuality and desire." In contrast, The Library Journal excoriated the work, writing, "Overgeneralization abounds as she attempts to apply the microcosmic events of this mostly white, middle-class, liberal milieu to a whole generation. ... There is a desperate defensiveness in the tone of this book which diminishes the force of her argument."
Misconceptions examines modern assumptions surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Most of the book is told through the prism of Wolf's personal experience of her first pregnancy. She describes the "vacuous impassivity" of the ultrasound technician who gives her the first glimpse of her new baby. Wolf both laments her C-section and examines why the procedure is commonplace in the United States, and advocates a return to more personal approaches to childbirth such as midwifery. The second half of the book catalogs a series of anecdotes about life after giving birth, focusing in particular on inequalities that arise in men and women's approaches and adjustments to child care.
The End of America
In The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, Wolf takes a historical look at the rise of fascism, outlining 10 steps necessary for a fascist group (or government) to destroy the democratic character of a nation-state. The book details how this pattern was implemented in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and elsewhere, and analyzes its emergence and application of all the 10 steps in American political affairs since the September 11 attacks.
The End of America was adapted for the screen as a documentary by filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, best known for The Devil Came on Horseback and The Trials of Darryl Hunt. It premiered in October 2008, and was favorably reviewed in The New York Times by Stephen Holden and Variety magazine. Mark Nuckols of the Russian Academy of National Economy argues in The Atlantic that Wolf 'twists its meaning and ignores its context' of historical parallels based on highly selective and misleading citations. In The Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan characterized the book as "an astoundingly lazy piece of writing."
Give Me Liberty
Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries was written as a sequel to The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. In the book, Wolf looks at times and places in history where citizens were faced with the closing of an open society and successfully fought back.
Vagina: A New Biography
Published in 2012 on the topic of the vagina, Vagina: A New Biography was widely criticized, especially by feminist authors. Calling it "ludicrous" at Slate.com, Katie Roiphe wrote, "I doubt the most brilliant novelist in the world could have created a more skewering satire of Naomi Wolf's career than her latest book." In The Nation, Katha Pollitt said the book was "silly" and contained "much dubious neuroscience and much foolishness"; she concluded, "It's lucky vaginas can't read, or mine would be cringing in embarrassment." Although writing that "Wolf's ideas and suggestions in 'Vagina' are valuable ones," Toni Bentley said in The New York Times Book Review that the book contained "shoddy" research and "is undermined by the fact that she has rendered herself less than unreliable over the past couple of decades, with one rant more hysterical than another." In The New York Review of Books Zoë Heller called Vagina "a shoddy piece of work, full of childlike generalizations and dreary, feminist auto-think." Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum decried the book's "painful" writing and its "hoary ideas about how women think." In The New York Observer, Nina Burleigh suggested that critics of the book were so vehement "because (a) their editors handed the book to them for review because they thought it was an Important Feminist Book when it's actually slight and (b) there's a grain of truth in what she's trying to say."
In response to the criticism, Wolf stated the following in a television interview:
... anything that shows documentation of the brain and vagina connection is going to alarm some feminists... . ..also feminism has kind of retreated into the academy and sort of embraced the idea that all gender is socially constructed and so here is a book that is actually looking at science ... though there has been some criticisms of the book from some feminists ... who say, well you can't look at the science because that means we have to grapple with the science ... to me the feminist task of creating a just world isn't changed at all by this fascinating neuroscience that shows some differences between men and women.
In 2019 Wolf published Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, a work based the 2015 D.Phil. thesis she had completed under the supervision of Trinity College literary scholar Dr. Stefano-Maria Evangelista. This book was published in the UK in May 2019 by Virago Press. In June 2019, the U.S. publisher recalled all copies from U.S. bookstores. The New York Times reviewer said of Outrages: "I don't trust it." An error in a central tenet of the book — a misunderstanding of the term "death recorded" — was identified in a radio interview. Wolf has said she intends to correct the error. On June 12, 2019, Outrages was named to the Oprah Magazine's "The 32 Best Books by Women of Summer 2019" list.
In 2005, Wolf published The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from my Father on How to Live, Love, and See, which chronicled her midlife crisis attempt to reclaim her creative and poetic vision and revalue her father's love, and her father's force as an artist and a teacher.
In publishing an article in The New Republic that criticized contemporary pro-choice positions, Wolf argued that the movement had "developed a lexicon of dehumanization" and urged feminists to accept abortion as a form of homicide and defend the procedure within the ambiguity of this moral conundrum. She continues, "Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die."
Wolf concluded by speculating that in a world of "real gender equality," passionate feminists "might well hold candlelight vigils at abortion clinics, standing shoulder to shoulder with the doctors who work there, commemorating and saying goodbye to the dead." More recently, in an article on the subtle manipulation of George W. Bush's image among women, Wolf wrote "Abortion is an issue not of Ms. Magazine-style fanaticism or suicidal Republican religious reaction, but a complex issue."
Wolf suggested in 2003 that the ubiquity of internet pornography tends to enervate the sexual attraction of men toward typical real women. She writes, "The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as 'porn-worthy.' Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention." Wolf advocates abstaining from porn not on moral grounds, but because "greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity."
Women in fascism
Wolf has examined how modern Western women, born in inclusive, egalitarian liberal democracies, are assuming positions of leadership in neofascist political movements:
Second-wave feminist theory abounds in assertions that war, racism, love of hierarchy, and general repressiveness belong to "patriarchy"; women's leadership, by contrast, would naturally create a more inclusive, collaborative world. The problem is that it has never worked out that way, as the rise of women to leadership positions in Western Europe's far-right parties should remind us. Leaders such as Marine Le Pen of France's National Front, Pia Kjaersgaard of Denmark's People's Party, and Siv Jensen of Norway's Progress Party reflect the enduring appeal of neofascist movements to many modern women in egalitarian, inclusive liberal democracies.
Women in Islamic countries
Wolf has spoken about the dress required of women living in Muslim countries:
The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I traveled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women's appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one's husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channeling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.
Defense of Julian Assange
The December 20, 2010 airing of Democracy Now! featured a segment titled "Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman: Feminists Debate the Sexual Allegations Against Julian Assange" in which Jaclyn Friedman argues the sexual assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shouldn't be dismissed just because they may be politically motivated. Wolf argues that the alleged victims should have said no, that they consented to having sex with Assange, that the charges are politically motivated and demean the cause of legitimate rape victims. The discussion took place shortly after the leaking of the Swedish police report on the incident.
Alleged sexual encroachment incident at Yale
In 2004, Wolf wrote an article for New York magazine accusing literary scholar Harold Bloom of a "sexual encroachment" more than two decades earlier by touching her thigh. She said that what she alleged Bloom did was not harassment, either legally or emotionally, and she did not think herself a "victim", but that she had harbored this secret for 21 years. Explaining why she had finally gone public with the charges, Wolf wrote,
I began, nearly a year ago, to try—privately—to start a conversation with my alma mater that would reassure me that steps had been taken in the ensuing years to ensure that unwanted sexual advances of this sort weren't still occurring. I expected Yale to be responsive. After nine months and many calls and e-mails, I was shocked to conclude that the atmosphere of collusion that had helped to keep me quiet twenty years ago was still intact—as secretive as a Masonic lodge. Sexual encroachment in an educational context or a workplace is, most seriously, a corruption of meritocracy; it is in this sense parallel to bribery. I was not traumatized personally, but my educational experience was corrupted. If we rephrase sexual transgression in school and work as a civil-rights and civil-society issue, everything becomes less emotional, less personal. If we see this as a systemic corruption issue, then when people bring allegations, the focus will be on whether the institution has been damaged in its larger mission.
In Slate magazine, Meghan O'Rourke wrote that Wolf generalized about sexual assault at Yale on the basis of her alleged personal experience. Moreover, O'Rourke noted that, despite Wolf's assertion that sexual assault existed at Yale, she did not interview any Yale students for her story. In addition, O'Rourke wrote, "She jumps through verbal hoops to make it clear she was not 'personally traumatized,' yet she spends paragraphs describing the incident in precisely those terms." O'Rourke noted that, despite Wolf's claim that her educational experience was corrupted, "(s)he neglects to mention that she later was awarded a Rhodes (scholarship) ..." Criticizing her "gaps and imprecision," O'Rourke concluded that Wolf's claim that no viable mechanism existed at Yale to prevent and prosecute sexual harassment was "deeply flawed."
Separately, a formal complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on March 15, 2011, by 16 current and former Yale students—12 female and 4 male—describing a sexually hostile environment at Yale. A federal investigation of Yale University began in March 2011 in response to the complaints. "Wolf said on CBS's The Early Show: 'Yale has been systematically covering up much more serious crimes than the ones that can be easily identified. What they do is that they use the sexual harassment grievance procedure in a very cynical way, purporting to be supporting victims, but actually using a process to stonewall victims, to isolate them, and to protect the university'", as quoted in the Daily Mail. Yale settled the federal complaint in June 2012, acknowledging "inadequacies" but not facing "disciplinary action with the understanding that it keeps in place policy changes instituted after the complaint was filed. The school (was) required to report on its progress to the Office of Civil Rights until May, 2014."
In January 2018, Wolf accused Yale officials of blocking her from filing a formal grievance against Bloom. She told The New York Times that she had attempted to file the complaint in 2015 with Yale's University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, but that the university had refused to accept it. On January 16, 2018, Wolf said, she determined to see Yale's provost, Ben Polak, in another attempt to present her case. "As she documented on Twitter," the Times reported, "she brought a suitcase and a sleeping bag, because she said she did not know how long she would have to stay. When she arrived at the provost's office, she said, security guards prevented her from entering any elevators. Eventually, she said, Aley Menon, the secretary of the sexual misconduct committee, appeared and they met in the committee's offices for an hour, during which she gave Ms. Menon a copy of her complaint." This was reported and confirmed by Norman Vanamee who apparently met Wolf at Yale on this morning. In Town&Country magazine in January 2018, Vanamee returned to the story and wrote, "Yale University has a 93-person police department, and, after the guard called for backup, three of its armed and uniformed officers appeared and stationed themselves between Wolf and the elevator bank."
Wolf was involved in Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election bid, brainstorming with the president's team about ways to reach female voters. During Al Gore's bid for the presidency in the 2000 election, Wolf was hired as a consultant to target female voters, reprising her role in the Clinton campaign. Wolf's ideas and participation in the Gore campaign generated considerable media coverage and criticism. According to a report by Michael Duffy in Time, Wolf was paid a monthly salary of $15,000 "in exchange for advice on everything from how to win the women's vote to shirt-and-tie combinations." This article was the original source of the widely reported assertion that Wolf was responsible for Gore's "three-buttoned, earth-toned look."
In an interview with Melinda Henneberger in The New York Times, Wolf denied ever advising Gore on his wardrobe. Wolf herself said she mentioned the term "alpha male" only once in passing and that "[it] was just a truism, something the pundits had been saying for months, that the vice president is in a supportive role and the President is in an initiatory role ... I used those terms as shorthand in talking about the difference in their job descriptions".
Occupy Wall Street
On October 18, 2011, Wolf was arrested in New York during the Occupy Wall Street protests, and spent about half an hour in a cell. Speaking about her arrest, Wolf said, "I was taken into custody for disobeying an unlawful order. The issue is that I actually know New York City permit law ... I didn't choose to get myself arrested. I chose to obey the law and that didn't protect me."
A month later, Wolf wrote an article which argued that attacks on the Occupy movement were a coordinated plot, orchestrated by federal law enforcement agencies and implemented by American mayors. She alleged that "congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces—pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS—to make war on peaceful citizens." The response to this article ranged from praise to criticism of Wolf for being overly speculative and creating a "conspiracy theory". Wolf responded that there is ample evidence for her argument, and proceeded to review the information available to her at the time of the article, and what she alleged was new evidence since that time.
In response, Joshua Holland, an editor at AlterNet, accused her of "many misstatements of fact, logical leaps and baseless assertions" and also a "reckless disregard of the available facts, a tendency toward inaccuracy ...". Rejecting her criticism of his previous analysis in which he wrote: "The headline of the piece is 'The Shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy,' but there is nothing truthful about what follows", he also claimed that Wolf "offers ... a theory with no factual basis". Holland further stated that "my criticism of Wolf's piece was based on the many inaccuracies in her writing ...". Another critic, Imani Gandy of Balloon Juice, wrote that "nothing substantiates Wolf's claims", that "Wolf's article has no factual basis whatsoever and is, therefore, a journalistic failure of the highest order" and that "it was incumbent upon (Wolf) to fully research her claims and to provide facts to back them up." Corey Robin, a political theorist, journalist, and associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, stated on his blog: "The reason Wolf gets her facts wrong is that she's got her theory wrong."
In early 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Global Intelligence Files, a trove of e-mails obtained via a hack by Anonymous and Jeremy Hammond. Among them was an email with an official Department of Homeland Security document from October 2011 attached. It indicated that DHS was closely watching Occupy, and concluded, "While the peaceful nature of the protests has served so far to mitigate their impact, larger numbers and support from groups such as Anonymous substantially increase the risk for potential incidents and enhance the potential security risk to critical infrastructure." In late December 2012, FBI documents released following an FOIA request from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund revealed that the FBI used counterterrorism agents and other resources to extensively monitor the national Occupy movement. The documents contained no references to agency personnel covertly infiltrating Occupy branches, but did indicate that the FBI gathered information from police departments and other law enforcement agencies relating to planned protests. Additionally, the blog Techdirt reported that the documents disclosed a plot by unnamed parties "to murder OWS leadership in Texas" but that "the FBI never bothered to inform the targets of the threats against their lives."
In a December 2012 article for The Guardian, Wolf wrote:
It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall —so mystifying at the time—was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves—was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
How simple ... just to label an entity a 'terrorist organization' and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.
[The FBI crackdown on Occupy] was never really about 'the terrorists'. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens—it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.
Mother Jones claimed that none of the documents revealed efforts by federal law enforcement agencies to disband the Occupy camps, and that the documents did not provide much evidence that federal officials attempted to suppress protesters' free speech rights. It was, said Mother Jones, "a far cry from Wolf's contention ..." 
In the January 2013 issue of The Atlantic, law and business professor Mark Nuckols wrote, "In her various books, articles, and public speeches, Wolf has demonstrated recurring disregard for the historical record and consistently mutilated the truth with selective and ultimately deceptive use of her sources." He wrote further, "[W]hen she distorts facts to advance her political agenda, she dishonors the victims of history and poisons present-day public discourse about issues of vital importance to a free society." Nuckols argued that Wolf "has for many years now been claiming that a fascist coup in America is imminent. Most recently in The Guardian she alleged, with no substantiation, that the U.S. government and big American banks are conspiring to impose a 'totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent'."
In June 2013, New York magazine reported that in a recent Facebook post, Wolf had expressed her "creeping concern" that NSA leaker Edward Snowden "is not who he purports to be, and that the motivations involved in the story may be more complex than they appear to be." Wolf was similarly skeptical of Snowden's "very pretty pole-dancing Facebooking girlfriend who appeared for, well, no reason in the media coverage ... and who keeps leaking commentary, so her picture can be recycled in the press." Wolf responded at her website, "I do find a great deal of media/blog discussion about serious questions such as those I raised, questions that relate to querying some sources of news stories, and their potential relationship to intelligence agencies or to other agendas that may not coincide with the overt narrative, to be extraordinarily ill-informed and naive." Specifically regarding Snowden, she wrote, "Why should it be seen as bizarre to wonder, if there are some potential red flags—the key term is 'wonder'—if a former NSA spy turned apparent whistleblower might possibly still be—working for the same people he was working for before?"
In October 2014, Wolf again aroused controversy, with a series of Facebook posts questioning the authenticity of videos that purported to show beheadings of two Americans and two Britons by the Islamic State, implying that they had been staged by the U.S. government and that the victims and their parents were actors. Wolf also charged that the U.S. was dispatching military troops not to assist in treating the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, but to carry the disease back home to justify a military takeover of America. She further said that the Scottish independence referendum, in which Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom, was faked. Speaking about this at a demonstration in Glasgow on October 12, Wolf said, "I truly believe it was rigged."
Vox journalist Max Fisher urged Wolf's readers "to understand the distinction between her earlier work, which rose on its merits, and her newer conspiracy theories, which are unhinged, damaging, and dangerous."
Over the last eight years, Naomi Wolf has written hysterically about coups and about vaginas and about little else besides. She has repeatedly insisted that the country is on the verge of martial law, and transmogrified every threat—both pronounced and overhyped—into a government-led plot to establish a dictatorship. She has made prediction after prediction that has simply not come to pass. Hers are not sober and sensible forecasts of runaway human nature, institutional atrophy, and constitutional decline, but psychedelic fever-dreams that are more typically suited to the InfoWars crowd.
Under the headline "Naomi Wolf Went Off the Deep End Long Ago", Aaron Goldstein in The American Spectator advised, "Her words must be taken not just with a grain of salt, but a full shaker's worth."
Responding to such criticism, Wolf said, "All the people who are attacking me right now for 'conspiracy theories' have no idea what they are talking about ... people who assume the dominant narrative MUST BE TRUE and the dominant reasons MUST BE REAL are not experienced in how that world works." To her nearly 100,000 Facebook followers, Wolf maintained, "I stand by what I wrote." However, in a follow-up Facebook post two days later, Wolf retracted her statement: "I am not asserting that the ISIS videos have been staged", she wrote.
I certainly sincerely apologize if one of my posts was insensitively worded. I have taken that one down. ... I am not saying the ISIS beheading videos are not authentic. I am not saying they are not records of terrible atrocities. I am saying that they are not yet independently confirmed by two sources as authentic, which any Journalism School teaches, and the single source for several of them, SITE, which received half a million dollars in government funding in 2004, and which is the only source cited for several, has conflicts of interest that should be disclosed to readers of news outlets.
In a 2019 interview with BBC broadcaster and author, Matthew Sweet, challenged several aspects of Wolf's latest work, Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, was questioned. In the book, she studies the repression of homosexuality in relation to attitudes towards divorce and prostitution, and also in relation to the censorship of books.
During a live radio interview with Sweet, challenged certain findings in Wolf's book and research. Sweet started by arguing that Wolf had misunderstood an obscure legal term, death recorded. He claimed that he had found it prior to the interview on website for the Old Bailey Criminal Court, the same site which Wolf had referred to as one of her sources earlier in the interview. Sweet stated the following:
“‘Death Recorded’ ... this is the definition I'm reading ... the definition from the Old Bailey website.”
He went on to challenge other points of the book to which Wolf replied:
"I was going by the Old Bailey Records and Regional Crime tables."
Sweet then interrupted her and reasserted his claim:
“Well, that’s how I got this, through that same sort of, uh, that same portal!"
Though Wolf admitted her error and went on to address it in several follow-up articles, she continues to defend her work. She appeared at book festivals in Wales and in Ireland, including the Hay Festival, the Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas, and the Belfast Book Festival. Speaking at the Hay Festival in 2019 on why people should tolerate objectionable speech and why censorship does not work, she said, "Censorship makes nothing go away. Censorship doesn't make bad ideas go away and it doesn't ultimately kill good ideas. It kills people, eventually, who are espousing good ideas. The only thing that makes bad ideas go away I can say categorically looking at history, including yours, is sunlight, scrutiny, and debate. So tolerate objectionable speech because that is how you protect your own."
In a recent appearance at the Strand Bookstore, Wolf said she was not embarrassed by the correction: “I don’t feel humiliated but I’m grateful for the correction. I feel a great responsibility and humility about this history.” She added, “I’m not a gay man and I’m not identified as part of the LGBTQ community, but this is an important man in history, what he did is important for all of us. The history of the freedom to love is everybody’s fight. It's critical to reclaiming it. I do feel a great sense of responsibility for getting it right.” She concluded, “We’re in a time of spin and fake news, endless lies from people who are not supposed to be lying to us, like press secretaries and politicians. Journalism is losing its ability to correct itself, as I saw with so many stories not correct about this. It’s my job.” 
- Wolf, Naomi (2002) . The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used Against Women. New York: Perennial. ISBN 9780060512187.
- Wolf, Naomi (1994). Fire with Fire: The New Female Power and How To Use It. New York: Fawcett Columbine. ISBN 9780449909515.
- Wolf, Naomi (1998). Promiscuities: A Secret History of Female Desire. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099205913.
- Wolf, Naomi (2001). Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 9780385493024.
- Wolf, Naomi (2005). The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from my Father on How to Live, Love, and See. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780743249775.
- Wolf, Naomi (2007). The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Pub. ISBN 9781933392790.
- Wolf, Naomi (2008). Give me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416590569.
- Wolf, Naomi (2012). Vagina: A New Biography. New York, New York: Ecco. ISBN 9780061989162.
- Wolf, Naomi (1994). "Hunger". In Fallon, Patricia; Katzman, Melanie A.; Wooley, Susan C. (eds.). Feminist Perspectives on Eating Disorders. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 94–114. ISBN 9781572301825.
- Chapman, Roger. Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, Volume 1. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc, 2010. p. 620
- Sandler, Lauren. The New York Times. "Naomi Wolf Sparks Another Debate (on Sex, of Course)"
- Goleman, Daniel. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead With Emotional Intelligence, 2004. p. xvi
- Beasley, Chris; Gender and Sexuality: Critical Theories, Critical Thinkers, Sage Publications; London, UK; c2005; ISBN 0-7619-6978-0; pp. 33-34
- Harris, Paul (October 22, 2011). "Naomi Wolf: true radical or ultra egoist? - Profile". the Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Wolf, Naomi (1991). The Beauty Myth. New York: Bantham Doubleday Dell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-06-051218-7. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
- Hix, Lisa (June 19, 2005). "Did Father Know Best? In Her New Book, Third Wave Feminist Naomi Wolf Reconsiders Her Bohemian Upbringing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
- Wolf, in an interview on The Alex Jones Show podcast October 22, 08 @ 2:40:38 into the program: "Well, you know, I'm Jewish and so, you know, I think there's this very deep reaction in people with my ancestry because my dad's family was largely wiped out by the holocaust, a sensitivity to travel restrictions because for people of my ethnicity there's a giant divide between people who got out before the border hardened during the National Nazi Socialist regime and those who waited a little too long. So I watch with concern when I travel, the growth of the [US] watchlist which is growing by 20,000 names a month ..."
- Blaisdell, Bob (May 15, 2005). "Naomi Wolf starts listening to her dad / 12 tidy lessons in wisdom of the heart". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Wolf, Leonard (March 20, 2019). "SF Chronicle Obituaries". SFGate Obituaries.
- Baxter, Sarah (January 8, 2006). "Finding her heart – and getting a divorce". The Sunday Times (London).
'It is truly nobody's fault,' she says. 'We had a wonderful 10 to 12 years. ... 'Subscription required.
- Mallozzi, Vincent M. (November 24, 2018). "An Author and Investigator Find Comfort in Each Other". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- "Naomi Wolf (biography and blog)". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
- "Stefano Evangelista". Trinity College University of Oxford. 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Meredith, Fionola (May 18, 2019). "Naomi Wolf: 'Never before have I seen so many threats to free speech. It is chilling'". Irish Times. Archived from the original on May 18, 2019. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Project Syndicate "The Next Wave."
- Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth. New York: Bantham Doubleday Dell Publishing, 1991; p. 281: "The beauty myth can be defeated only through an electric resurgence of the woman-centered political activism of the seventies—a feminist third wave—updated to take on the new issues of the nineties ... I've become convinced that here are thousands of young women ready and eager to join forces with a peer-driven feminist third wave that would take on, along with the classic feminist agenda, the new problems that have arisen with the shift in Zeitgeist and beauty backlash."
- Deborah, Felder (February 28, 2006). A Bookshelf of Our Own: Works that Changed Women's Lives. Kensington Publishing Corporation. p. 274. ISBN 9780806527420. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- The Beauty Myth, pp. 17–18, 20, 86, 131, 179, 218.
- The Beauty Myth. p. 10
- Abbott, Carl. "Reviews". Powells.com. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- Kim Hubbard, The Tyranny of Beauty, To Naomi Wolf, Pressure to Look Good Equals Oppression, People, June 24, 1991.
- Paglia, Camille. Sex, Art, and American Culture. New York: Random House, 1992. p. 262
- Naomi Wolf. "Feminist Fatale". The New Republic. March 16, 1992. pp. 23–25
- Camille Paglia. "Wolf Pack." The New Republic. April 13, 1992. pp. 4–5
- Naomi Wolf and Camille Paglia. "The Last Words." The New Republic. May 18, 1992. pp. 4–5
- Christina Hoff Sommers (May 1, 1995). Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Simon and Schuster. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0-684-80156-8.
- Tetanya Pekars (June 7, 2012). "Naomi Wolf Got Her Facts Wrong. Really, Really, Really Wrong".
- Sehgal, Parul (June 5, 2019). "Naomi Wolf's Career of Blunders Continues in 'Outrages'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Caryn, James. The New York Times. "Feminine Beauty as a Masculine Plot".
- Yalom, Marilyn. The Washington Post. "Feminism's Latest Makeover."
- Schoemaker, Casper (August 17, 210). "A Critical Appraisal of the Anorexia Statistics in The Beauty Myth: Introducing Wolf's Overdo and Lie Factor". Eating Disorders. 12 (2): 97. doi:10.1080/10640260490444619.
- Murti, Atidi (June 20, 2019). "Revisiting 'The Beauty Myth': What Are the Ethics of Applying Bad Facts to a Good Cause?". The Swaddle. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
- Kreizman, Maris (June 14, 2019). "A Journey With Naomi Wolf". The New REpublic. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
- Wolf, Naomi (1993). Fire with Fire. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-42718-6.
- Kakutani, Michiko (December 3, 1993). "Books of The Times; Helpful Hints for an Era of Practical Feminism". The New York Times.
- Duffy, Martha (December 27, 1993). "Tremors of Genderquake". Time. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- Walter, Natasha (November 18, 1993). "How to change the world and be sexy: Fire with fire". The Independent. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
- Wolf, Naomi (1997). Promiscuities. New York: Balantine Publishing Group. OCLC 473694368.
- Kakutani, Michiko (June 10, 1997). "Feminism Lite: She Is Woman, Hear Her Roar". The New York Times.
- Weaver, Courtney (June 8, 1997). "Growing Up Sexual". The New York Times.
- The Library Journal, June 1997.
- Wolf, Naomi (2001). Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-49302-4.
- Wolf, Naomi. "Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps." The Guardian. April 24, 2007.
- Wolf, Naomi (2007). The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. White River, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN 978-1-933392-79-0.
- Wolf, Naomi (September 27, 2007). "Books: The End of America". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
I want to summarize why I believe we are facing a real crisis. My reading showed me that there are 10 key steps that would-be despots always take when they are seeking to close down an open society or to crush a democracy movement, and we are seeing each of those in the US today.
- Holden, Stephen (December 3, 2008). "When Laws and Liberties Test Each Other's Limits". The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Scheib, Ronnie (October 20, 2008). "The End of America Movie Review". Variety.
- Nuckols, Mark (January 9, 2013). "No, Naomi Wolf, America Is Not Becoming a Fascist State". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Moynihan, Michael (October 11, 2014). "From ISIS to Ebola, What Has Made Naomi Wolf So Paranoid?". The Daily Beast.
- Felling, Matthew (November 27, 2007). "What About The Candidates?". CBS News. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
That came to mind when I read the Washington Post's Outlook section this weekend, and looked over Naomi Wolf's piece about how young people don't understand capital-D Democracy. According to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 47 percent of high school seniors have mastered a minimum level of U.S. history and civics, while only 14 percent performed at or above the "proficient" level.
- Roiphe, Katie, "Naomi Wolf’s New Book About Her Vagina: It’s as ludicrous as you think it is.", Slate.com, September 10, 2012.
- Pollitt, Katha, " Naomi Wolf's 'Vagina': No Carnations, Please, We're Goddesses", The Nation, September 12, 2012.
- Bentley, Toni (September 14, 2012). "Upstairs, Downstairs 'Vagina: A New Biography,' by Naomi Wolf". The New York Times.
- Heller, Zoë (September 27, 2012). "Pride and Prejudice". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Daum, Meghan, "Daum: Naomi Wolf's vaginal sideshow", Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2012.
- Burleigh, Nina, "Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? Why Female Critics Are Piling On", New York Observer, September 13, 2012.
- Allen Gregg TV interview "Naomi Wolf on her new book, Vagina: A New Biography", January 18, 2013. Quote starts 21min in.
- Lynn Barber (June 15, 2019). "Naomi Wolf is holed below the waterline". The Spectator. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- Alter, Alexandra (June 13, 2019). "Naomi Wolf's Publisher Delays Release of Her Book". NYT. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
It’s unclear whether “Outrages” will also be recalled in Britain, where it was released in May by the publisher Virago.
- Parul Sehgal (June 5, 2019). "Naomi Wolf's Career of Blunders Continues in 'Outrages'". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
I don’t trust it
- Dzhanova, Yelena (May 24, 2019). "Here's an Actual Nightmare: Naomi Wolf Learning On-Air That Her Book Is Wrong". Intelligencer (website). New York. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
When she went on BBC radio on Thursday, Wolf, the author of Vagina and the forthcoming Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, probably expected to discuss the historical revelations she’d uncovered her book. But during the interview, broadcaster Matthew Sweet read to Wolf the definition of “death recorded,” a 19th-century English legal term. “Death recorded” means that a convict was pardoned for his crimes rather than given the death sentence.
Wolf thought the term meant execution.
- León, Concepción de (May 24, 2019). "After an On-Air Correction, Naomi Wolf Addresses Errors in Her New Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
- "The Best Books by Women of Summer 2019". Oprah Magazine. June 12, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
- Wolf, Naomi (October 16, 1995). "Our Bodies, Our Souls". The New Republic. 213 (16): 26–35, reprinted here .
- Wolf, Naomi (May 21, 2005). "Female Trouble". New York.
- Wolf, Naomi (October 20, 2003). "The Porn Myth". New York.
- Wolf, Naomi (March 31, 2008). "Fascism with a Feminist Face". Project Syndicate.
- Wolf, Naomi (August 30, 2008). "Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Goodman, Amy (December 20, 2010). "Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman: Feminists Debate the Sexual Allegations Against Julian Assange". Democracy Now!. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Wolf, Naomi (March 1, 2004). "The Silent Treatment". New York. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- O'Rourke, Meghan (February 25, 2004). "Crying Wolf". Retrieved November 12, 2018 – via Slate.
- Gassó, Jordi, "Yale under federal investigation for possible Title IX violations" Archived December 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Yale Daily News, April 1–2, 2011. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- "Feminist author Naomi Wolf accuses Yale of covering up sexual harassment as federal probe is launched", Daily Mail, April 5, 2011. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- Ariosto, David; Remizowski, Leigh. "Yale settles sexual harassment complaint", CNN, June 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- "'Beauty Myth' Writer Says Yale Blocked Harassment Claim". Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Vanamee, Norman (January 23, 2018). "Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?". Town & Country. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (November 1, 1999). "Adviser Pushes Gore to Be Leader of the Pack". The New York Times.
- Somerby, Bob. "A virtual wilding:
The month of earth tones-and Wolf". How He Got There Chapter 5. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
The frenzy about Naomi Wolf began in the pages of Time. On Sunday morning, October 31, just four days after the jeering of Gore, the magazine released a news report headlined, "GORE'S SECRET GURU." (The report appeared in Time's new edition, dated November 8.) In the piece, Michael Duffy and Karen Tumulty reported an underwhelming fact: Author Naomi Wolf, the "secret guru" in question, was advising the Gore campaign-had been doing so since January. Within days, this underwhelming piece of news had turned into a major press frenzy. For the next month, Gore and Wolf would be relentlessly trashed, in ways which were often remarkably ugly and often profoundly inane.
- Dowd, Maureen (November 3, 1999). "Liberties; The Alpha-Beta Macarena". The New York Times.
- Henneberger, Melinda (November 5, 1999). "Naomi Wolf, Feminist Consultant to Gore, Clarifies Her Campaign Role". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012.
- Wells, Matt (October 19, 2011). "Occupy Wall St: Naomi Wolf condemns 'Stalinist' erosion of protest rights". The Guardian. London. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
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- Holland, Joshua (November 26, 2011). "Naomi Wolf's 'Shocking Truth' About the 'Occupy Crackdowns' Is Anything But True". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
- Holland, Joshua (December 2, 2011). "Occupy crackdowns: Naomi Wolf's response to my critique largely evades the issue at hand". AlterNet. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Gandy, Imani (November 27, 2011). "Naomi Wolf's 'Shocking Truths' on #OWS Crackdowns Are False". Balloon Juice. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Robin, Corey (November 27, 2011). "The Occupy Crackdowns: Why Naomi Wolf Got It Wrong". Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Debucquoy-Dodley, Dominique (December 26, 2012). "FBI considered Occupy movement potential threat, documents say". CNN.com. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Schmidt, Michael S.; Moynihan, Colin (December 24, 2012). "F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Geigner, Timothy (January 2, 2013). "FBI, Working With Banks, Chose Not To Inform Occupy Leadership Of Assassination Plot On Its Leaders". Techdirt. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Wolf, Naomi (December 29, 2012). "Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy". The Guardian. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Aronsen, Gavin (January 7, 2013). "What the FBI's Occupy Docs Do—and Don't—Reveal". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Coscarelli, Joe (June 14, 2013). "Naomi Wolf Thinks Edward Snowden and His Sexy Girlfriend Might Be Government Plants". New York. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Wolf, Naomi (June 15, 2013). "Some aspects of Snowden's presentation that I find worth further inquiry – an update". naomiwolf.org. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Fisher, Max (October 5, 2014). "The insane conspiracy theories of Naomi Wolf". Vox. Vox Media. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
- Peter Geoghegan "Glasgow rally shows independence aspiration intact", Irish Times, 13 October 2014
- Cooke, Charles C. W. (October 6, 2014). "The Fevered Delusions of Naomi Wolf". National Review Online. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
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- Berry, Sarah (October 6, 2014). "Naomi Wolf slammed for 'unhinged conspiracy theories'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
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- "BBC Radio 3 - Arts & Ideas, Censorship and sex". BBC. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
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