Publishers have a big problem with feminism. Editors tend to subscribe to the notion that feminists are dreary and not to be bothered with, but every now and then a feminist book is a spectacular (and enviable) success. People are still reading The Second Sex – even my local Waterstone's, which does its best to disguise the fact that it sells any books at all, has a copy on its shelves – and The Female Eunuch remains one of the most famous publications of the twentieth century. Publishers have an uneasy feeling that they might be missing something, and a key text in this state of affairs is The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.
Wolf sidestepped the fierce intellectualism of Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Greer and Kate Millett, offering in its place a mass of statistics and a species of autobiographical writing that editors and readers turned out to love. Wolf's genius (in marketing terms, obviously) was to combine feminism with an