Books by Phyllis Chesler

Dr. Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies, a psychotherapist, and an expert courtroom witness. She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns in the United States and in Canada, Europe, th

Released: Aug. 28, 2018

"Often scattershot but never boring, Chesler's memoir will raise more than a few hackles."
The author of Women and Madness (1972) looks back with a sharp eye at her sometimes-contentious engagement with the second-wave feminist revolution launched in the 1960s. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Intelligent, powerful and timely."
A renowned psychotherapist's richly compelling memoir about how her experiences as an Afghan man's wife shaped her as both a feminist and human rights activist. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2011

An unblinking look at gender bias in child-custody battles. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 5, 2005

"A fierce polemic, filled with vigorous arguments and distressing human stories."
Chesler (The New Anti-Semitism, 2003, etc.) aims a loud wake-up call at her fellow feminists, charging that while feminism is not exactly dead, it is failing, suffering from the disease of politically correct passivity. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2001

"The material is familiar, but feminists and sexists alike should find the package challenging."
"Women are sexists too" is the not-very-surprising thesis of this reference-packed tome from psychologist, feminist, and author Chesler (Letters to a Young Feminist, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

Chesler's latest missive from the feminist front is a superficial and poorly organized ``open letter'' to contemporary women that only regurgitates already spoken ideologies. Some 30 years after feminism's second wave of the 1960s reshaped the way Americans saw women, radical feminist Chesler (Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness, 1994, etc.) declares that today's third-wave feminists must remember the impact the women's movement has had on their lives. Concerned that conservatives, pro-sex feminists (like Susie Bright), and the not-yet-overthrown patriarchy have forced young women to disassociate themselves from feminism's original agenda, Chesler sets out to teach this new generation from her own experiences battling the male establishment. Letters to a Young Feminist is overwhelmingly ambitious in its scope of topics as Chesler seeks to provide commentary on issues including abortion, marriage, sex, religion, history, race, love, class, and sisterhood. But chapters that frequently don't venture beyond five pages never fully examine either the 1960s brand of feminist activism or what women can learn from it. While Chesler has toned down the exremist feminist ranting she exhibited in earlier books, statements like ``learn to enjoy the accusation of being a man-hater'' and ``patriarchal marriage is exceptionally dangerous for women and their children'' make her advice difficult to swallow or take seriously. Instead of attempting to address the real issues faced by feminism's newest members, Chesler looks to solve their problems by throwing outdated, militant feminist rhetoric at them. Trite platitudes end almost every chapter, encouraging women to enroll in ``Warrior Training 101'' and reminding them that ``no special skills are required in order to accomplish a great task.'' At a time when feminism is in great flux, this volume fails to offer any valuable advice to a group of women who desperately need it. Read full book review >
PATRIARCHY by Phyllis Chesler
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

This assortment of essays (1986 to 1994) assesses sexual inequality in America and demands deep structural changes for the future survival of all women and men. Chesler (Sacred Bond: The Legacy of Baby M, 1988, etc.) is on track in challenging women at a time when the feminist movement seems to have stalled. But backlash and conspiracy theories don't hold water if in fact women haven't achieved the long-sought-after gains. The essays are full of names, facts, and figures used to support her claims about overall sexual inequality, yet her extremist ravings tend to essentialize women, especially since she offers only occasional lip service to cultural differences. Throughout the essays she sharply challenges the liberal thinking of gender neutrality, but her radical perspective doesn't provide solutions to the problems she addresses, such as custody battles, domestic violence, and rape. Chesler's strongest piece examines the case of Aileen Wuornos, the female serial killer in Florida convicted and sentenced to death in 1992. According to Chesler, women are held to higher standards than men within the legal system and there consequently exists a double standard of punishment for criminal acts. In the final essay, an example of women at work for justice, Chesler visits a group of mostly lesbian feminists outside Ovett, Miss. Describing her trek to Camp Sister Spirit, Chesler tangentially critiques the overurbanization of America. Claiming there is nothing indigenous left, she carelessly uses as proof the fact that ``the Indians...are all dead and gone.'' Apparently Chesler has never traveled to any reservations or chatted with any urban Indians. This and other sloppy remarks about the state of the world diminish the points she tries desperately to make. Unfortunately, Chesler's expert testimony against patriarchy is full of rhetorical generalizations. But even those who might dismiss Chesler on grounds of political ideologuing cannot ignore the ardent analysis of critical issues buried in her radical jargon. Read full book review >