Naomi Wolf Biography
Naomi Wolf is an American liberal progressive feminist author, journalist, and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton. 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.
Wolf first came to prominence in 1991 as the author of 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 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 the eponymous section below).
She began her journalism career 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.
Naomi Wolf Age
Naomi Wolf was born on November 12, 1962, in San Francisco, California, United States. Naomi Wolf is 56 years old as of 2018.
Naomi Wolf Education
Naomi Wolf attended Lowell High School and debated in regional speech tournaments as a member of the Lowell Forensic Society. Wolf then attended Yale University, wherein 1984, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature. From 1985 to 1987, she was a Rhodes Scholar at New College, Oxford.
Naomi Wolf Husband
Naomi Wolf married David Shipley from 1993 until their divorce in 2005. David Shipley is an American journalist. He is executive editor of Bloomberg View, overseeing its editorial page and its associated columnists and op-ed contributors. He was picked for this position in December 2010 and jointly launched Bloomberg View with James P. Rubin on May 2011. The couples were blessed with two children Rosa (b. 1995) and Joseph (b. 2000). Wolf and Shipley divorced in 2005.
Naomi Wolf Father
Naomi Wolf’s father was Leonard Wolf, a Romanian-born gothic horror scholar at the 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.
Naomi Wolf Journalist, Political advisor
In 1991, Naomi 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.
She posits the idea of “iron-maiden,” as an intrinsically unattainable standard that is 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.
She 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”.
She 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.
In 2004, she reported an alleged incident of “sexual encroachment” by professor Harold Bloom she said she had experienced when she was a Yale undergraduate working on poetry with Bloom two decades earlier. Due to her feelings that the university had not taken her complaint seriously, she made her complaint in public.
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 during the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty on pornography film that 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. She is the best seller of books who received 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. She accepted the error and changed it in future editions. Sommers gave an estimate for the number of fatalities in 1990 as 100-400.
The New York Times published a harshly critical assessment of Wolf’s work by Caryn James. She 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.” In a comparatively positive review, The Washington Post called the book “persuasive” and praised its “accumulated evidence.”
Naomi Wolf 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 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.”
Naomi Wolf Promiscuities
Promiscuities (1997) 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 misogynistic all 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 generally received negative reviews. In The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani called Wolf 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, in the Sunday edition, another Times reviewer praised the book: “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.”
Naomi Wolf Misconceptions
Naomi Wolf had Misconceptions on (2001) examines and the 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’s and women’s approaches and adjustments to childcare.
Naomi Wolf The Treehouse
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.
Naomi Wolf The End of America
At The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007), 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.”
Naomi Wolf The Beauty Myth
In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women’s movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife.
It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”
Naomi Wolf Give Me Liberty
Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries (2008) 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.
Naomi Wolf 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” on the Slate website, 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 wrote 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 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 the science
… though there have 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.
Naomi Wolf Outrages
Wolf’s book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love were published in 2019, a work based on the 2015 D.Phil. thesis she had completed under the supervision of Trinity College, Oxford literary scholar Dr. Stefano-Maria Evangelista.
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. The book was published in the UK in May 2019 by Virago Press. On June 12, 2019, Outrages was named to the O, The Oprah Magazine’s “The 32 Best Books by Women of Summer 2019” list.
The following day, 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 2019 BBC radio interview with broadcaster and author Matthew Sweet.
He cited a 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 challenged 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: “Well, that’s how I got this, through that same sort of, uh, that same portal!” Reviewers have described other errors of scholarship in the work. Wolf 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.
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.” Wolf has said she intends to correct the error but, as of October 2019, she has yet to do so.
Naomi Wolf Feminist positions
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.”
In an article for New York magazine on the subtle manipulation of George W. Bush’s image among women, Wolf wrote in 2005: “Abortion is an issue not of Ms. Magazine-style fanaticism or suicidal Republican religious reaction, but a complex issue.”
Naomi Wolf Pornography
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.”
Naomi Wolf 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.
Naomi Wolf 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.
Naomi Wolf Defense of Julian Assange
Shortly after the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in 2010, she wrote in an article for The Huffington Post that the allegations made against him by his two reputed victims amounted to no more than bad manners from a boyfriend.
His accusers, she later wrote, were working for the CIA and Assange had been falsely incriminated. On December 20, 2010, Democracy Now! featured a debate between Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman on the Assange case.
According to Wolf, the alleged victims should have said no, asserted that they consented to have sex with him, and said the claims were politically motivated and demeaned the cause of legitimate rape victims. In a 2011 Guardian article, she objected to Assange’s two accusers having their anonymity preserved.
In response, Katha Pollitt wrote in an article for The Nation: “Wolf is quite willing to assume the worst about the Assange accusers, based on Internet rumors, early misreporting and spin from Assange and his lawyer.”
Naomi Wolf 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 wrote 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 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.”
Naomi Wolf Political consultant
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”.
Naomi Wolf 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 authorize 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.”
Naomi Wolf Alleged conspiracy theorist
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 a 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.
[I]n 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.”
Charles C. W. Cooke observed at the National Review Online, 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.
Naomi Wolf Books
The Beauty Myth 1990
Vagina: A New Biography 2012
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot 2007
Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood 1997
Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood 2001
Fire with Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century 1993
Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries 2008
The treehouse Naomi Wolf 2005
Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love 2019
Outrages: How Gay Men, Bad Girls, Smut and Perversion Were Invented 2019
Non-Fiction Book Proposal Writing Class: With Naomi Wolf 2010