Naomi Wolf on Inspiration

Naomi Wolf is an author and essayist whose works have appeared in The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She also speaks widely to groups across the country.

Her first book, The Beauty Myth, was an international bestseller. She followed it with Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change The 21st Century; Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood; Misconceptions, critique of pregnancy and birth in America; The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot; and Give me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

Wolf is also co-founder of the Board of The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization devoted to training young women in ethical leadership for the 21st century. She is a graduate of Yale University and completed her graduate work at New College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

  • Transcript


Wolf: Well, I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy especially right now.  I think a lot of people are scared.  I’m not always that comfortable, you know, I don’t like being on the watch list when I get those [IB] and I don’t like the stories of harassment and intimidation that I’m hearing.  I don’t like the fact that people who are speaking out have to even think about these things and we’re supposed to be the country where you can say whatever you want and you don’t have to worry about being put on a terrorist list or watch list or, you know, having your mail tampered or, you know, surveillance or, you know, the things that I’m hearing about across the country.  But, I guess, so, I guess I would have to say honestly it’s day by day, and I also want to be honest that from what I know about closing societies, there is a point people really have to get this about closing societies, there’s a point for everyone at which their courage fails and that’s how societies close that enough people get intimidated and there’s going to be a point for me which my courage will fail, you know, God forbid if things continue to [wretch] up, you know, when people think their families are in jeopardy, you know, they go quiet and I guess I just want to say this because another tendency I’ve noticed is for audiences to say. “Oh, good for you, Naomi, you know, you go, be brave.”  And I’m trying to say I’m not brave.  I’m scared and all of us have to do this together for none of us to be scared.  Did you understand what I’m saying?  We can’t like leave it as well this people up there, out there are going to take care of this fight, something is super clear to me in a closing society is that A) even bravest people shut up eventually, I mean, unless it’s really suicidal and I’m not, and B) that there is no safety unless millions of people speak up together.  Now, on a much more positive note, I have a wonderful family.  I have, you know, I have a dreamy boyfriend.  I have beautiful children, you know.  I’ve got a very loving group of friends and many, many, new colleagues that I’ve met doing this kind of work about liberty that I admire so much and their good opinion is very [heartening] to me and, you know, my admiration for what they’re doing is very [heartening] to me.