Books by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

Released: Jan. 1, 1996

``Today, women's `problem that has no name' is children.'' Fox-Genovese's chutzpah-filled appropriation of Betty Friedan's famous phrase sums up her case for more family-friendly social policies. Radical and elitist feminists, she claims, with their ostensible overemphasis on having ``upscale careers,'' ``equality with men,'' and avoiding the ``burdens'' of motherhood, ignore the real needs of most women, who are working mothers. But this is only one aspect of Fox-Genovese's (Humanities and History/Emory Univ.; Feminism Without Illusions, not reviewed) larger argument that children are a fact of most women's lives, one that is being overlooked by everyone—men and women, feminists and conservatives alike. Many feminists, she says, prize women's independence but not women's maternal instincts; conservatives value family and motherhood but make no provisions for women to secure fulfilling work. As a result, ``our failure to meet the needs of children, and the needs of the women who bear them, is costing us heavily,'' and children are the ones who lose most. But though she stresses the hypocrisy of conservatives, she still assigns the brunt of the blame to radical and elitist feminists. Her broadsides on those feminists who attack the notion of the ``Mommy track'' (which, she asserts, would provide ``what millions of women want''), or oppose restrictions on abortion, or condemn conventional standards of femininity seem like a grab bag of personal gripes and detract from her central (and less hackneyed) point that radical feminists and political conservatives form a united front against the needs of most women. Fox-Genovese concludes her tract with an effusive paean to children that rivals the platitudinous sentiments she condemns in conservatives, illustrating, as she does in the preceding chapters, that feminism is not the story of this book. Read full book review >
Released: April 23, 1991

Here, Fox-Genovese (Humanities, History, & Women's Studies/Emory Univ.; co-author, Fruits of Merchant Capital, 1982) collects highly philosophical arguments (all but one chapter previously published in learned journals) comprising a ``feminist critique on the theory of individualism,'' that system of thought in which ``rights'' are ``grounded in the individual.'' Unfortunately, although Fox-Genovese insists that ``feminist history must retain its engagement with women in the world,'' the book itself is grounded in citations rather than human experience. The first two chapters argue that the images of ``collectivity,'' sisterhood and community, are derived from the ``dominant male discourse of ideas'' and perpetuate the subordination of women. Like many other feminists, Fox-Genovese believes that all women are deprived, victimized, excluded, that all men are dominant, powerful, and excluding, that pornography, indeed most social institutions, exploit women, who need a new ``discourse,'' political power, their own history, ``canon,'' ``culture.'' In these generalizations, there are no deprived men, no successful women, only white, middle-class, educated, employed, and healthy anatomically opposed creatures forever slugging it out on the domestic and economic battlefront. Along with the generalizations, there are the usual slogans (``The personal is the political''), fashionable jargon (``hegemonic ideology''), and personifications (``feminism's temptation to follow individualism''), most of which, devoid of human agency, nonetheless ``struggle,'' ``marry,'' ``divorce,'' ``embody.'' Abstract and intellectualized, but intriguing for its reasoned assault on the philosophical underpinnings of society. Read full book review >