Head to Head

War on women, war on liberty?

World-renowned feminist author and democracy campaigner Naomi Wolf on the state of feminism and civil liberties.

In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges Naomi Wolf, one of the world’s best-known feminists and author of the seminal book The Beauty Myth, on where the feminist movement is headed, and whether her controversial latest writings are furthering or undermining the cause of women’s rights.

Women have sexual desire which is misunderstood, not addressed, not recognised, not respected.

by Naomi Wolf

Wolf vigorously defends her latest book Vagina: A New Biographyin which she argues, “to understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.” The book has been labelled as ‘essentialist’, ‘narcissistic’ and ‘simplistic’ by fellow feminists.

We explore whether feminism is dominated by white, middle-class Western women and how it can represent the interests of women across cultural lines.

We also ask why the media has branded Naomi Wolf a ‘conspiracy theorist’ in recent years, and whether there is truth to her claim that the US has become a police state.

Joining the discussion are:

  • Andrea Stuart, an award-winning feminist author and lecturer in cultural studies.
  • Caroline Criado-Perez, a feminist campaigner, journalist and author of Do It Like a Woman.
  • Finn Mackay, the founder of the London Feminist Network and author of Radical Feminism.
  • Hana Riaz, founder and director of The Body Narratives, an NGO dedicated to documenting the narratives of women of colour.

What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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Head to Head is Al Jazeera’s forum of ideas, a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues such as faith, the economic crisis, democracy and intervention in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union.

Watch previous Head to Head shows here.