The Accidental Feminist

The Accidental Feminist

How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
2
Baker & Taylor
The author of Forever Barbie reveals how Elizabeth Taylor's on-screen persona introduced influential feminist ideas to mainstream audiences, from gender discrimination and birth control to the roles of women and sexual choices. 35,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave

From the brilliant cultural historian M.G. Lord, an intimate examination of the unexpected feminist content in Elizabeth Taylor's iconic roles--published on what would have been her 80th birthday, February 27, 2012.


Movie stars establish themselves as brands--and Taylor's brand , in its most memorable outings, has repeatedly introduced a broad audience to feminist ideas. In her breakout film, "National Velvet" (1944), Taylor's character challenges gender discrimination,: Forbidden as a girl to ride her beloved horse in an important race, she poses as a male jockey. Her next milestone, "A Place in the Sun" (1951), can be seen as an abortion rights movie--a cautionary tale from a time before women had ready access to birth control. In "Butterfield 8" (1960), for which she won an Oscar, Taylor isn't censured because she's a prostitute, but because she chooses the men: she controls her sexuality, a core tenet of the third-wave feminism that emerged in the 1990s. Even "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) depicts the anguish that befalls a woman when the only way she can express herself is through her husband's stalled career and children.

The legendary actress has lived her life defiantly in public--undermining post-war reactionary sex roles, helping directors thwart the Hollywood Production Code, which censored film content between 1934 and 1967. Defying death threats she spearheaded fundraising for AIDS research in the first years of the epidemic, and has championed the rights of people to love whom they love, regardless of gender. Yet her powerful feminist impact has been hidden in plain sight. Drawing on unpublished letters and scripts as well as interviews with Kate Burton, Gore Vidal, Austin Pendleton, Kevin McCarthy, Liz Smith, and others, The Accidental Feminist will surprise Taylor and film fans with its originality and will add a startling dimension to the star's enduring mystique.



Baker
& Taylor

Movie stars build their roles into brands--and the Taylor brand is startlingly feminist. In her breakout film, "National Velvet" (1944), Taylor challenged gender discrimination, playing a jockey who had to pose as a male to race. Her next landmark, "A Place in the Sun" (1951), tackles abortion rights. In "Butterfield 8" (1960), she is censured not because she's a prostitute, but because she controls her own sexuality. And the classic "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) depicts the anguish that befalls a woman when the only way she can express herself is through her husband's career and children. Taylor's personal life, too, is remarkable: financially autonomous, she supported her parents as a teenager. As an adult, she supported the right of people to love whomever they love--regardless of gender. Her legendary friendships with her gay male costars inspired her to become a major fundraiser for AIDS research in the 1980s, before the cause became fashionable. Drawing upon unpublished letters and scripts, as well as interviews with Gore Vidal, Robert Forster, Austin Pendleton, Kevin McCarthy and others, this is a long overdue reappraisal.--From publisher description.
Reveals how Elizabeth Taylor's on-screen persona introduced influential feminist ideas to mainstream audiences, from gender discrimination and birth control to the roles of women and sexual choices.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 2011.
ISBN: 9780802716699
0802716695
Characteristics: 192 p.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

v
vonnyb
Mar 22, 2018

This book offers some excellent insight into some of Elizabeth Taylor's best movies, and some of her lesser-known ones as well. I was expecting the analysis to be a little more intense, but this is a nice, easy read that points out how many of the roles Taylor played are of women who refuse to be victims, and who live life on their own terms. Representation matters, and Taylor represented strong, independent women in a period of history where such qualities in women were not only undervalued but strongly discouraged and even punished. It was fun to relive some of these movies through M.G. Lord's eyes. Be aware that the book is full of spoilers, though, so you may want to watch the movies first.

s
SK_Jarlone
Nov 16, 2015

Great book. This is how I discovered James Dean, Taylor's research concerning AIDS, and some really cool movies like Giant.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at OPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top