Mean Girl Feminism

How White Feminists Gaslight, Gatekeep, and Girlboss
Author: Kim Hong Nguyen
White feminists performing to maintain privilege
Cloth – $110
Paper – $22.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/09/2024
Cloth: 01/09/2024
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About the Book

Mean girl feminism encourages girls and women to be sassy, sarcastic, and ironic as feminist performance. Yet it coopts its affect, form, and content, from racialized oppression and protest while directing meanness toward people in marginalized groups.

Kim Hong Nguyen examines four types of white mean girl feminism prominent in North American popular culture: the bitch, the mean girl, the power couple, and the global mother. White feminists mime the anger, disempowerment, and resistance felt by people of color and other marginalized groups. Their performance allows them to pursue and claim a special place within established power structures, present as intellectually superior, advance their girl squads and their partners as part of a politics of solidarity and community, and position themselves as better, more enlightened masters than men. But, as Nguyen argues, the racialized meanness found across pop culture opens possibilities for building an intersectional feminist politics that rejects performative civility in favor of turning anger into liberation.

* Publication supported by the Robert Harding and Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Grant at the University of Waterloo.

About the Author

Kim Hong Nguyen is an associate professor of communication arts at the University of Waterloo and the editor of Rhetoric in Neoliberalism.


"A sweeping, smart manifesto that's crucial for white feminists to read in order to acknowledge, mitigate, and correct microaggressions and challenge oppressive systems." --Library Journal (starred review)

"I am so glad someone finally wrote this book; I am only sorry it wasn’t me! In it, Kim Hong Nguyen takes white feminists to task on our performativity, practices and power structures that only serve to perpetuate white supremacy. Being mean isn’t it, white feminists, and it’s time we take a critical look at how we overcome it in service to liberation for all." --Ms. Magazine


“This is an important book that is beautifully and powerfully written and deeply original while offering productive interventions into the study of mean girl culture and its larger impact on conversations on feminism. Nguyen does an excellent job showing the systemic and historical ways white supremacy and patriarchy enact themselves on white women’s feminist practices and creation of mean girl feminism. A vital contribution.”--Kishonna L. Gray, author of Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming