A vigorous, if often spotty, attack on feminist fiction, feminist literary-criticism, and feminist sexual politics: Hazen...

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ENDLESS RAPTURE: Rape, Romance, and the Female Imagination

A vigorous, if often spotty, attack on feminist fiction, feminist literary-criticism, and feminist sexual politics: Hazen believes that feminist extremists have been driven to make rape a phony metaphor for all male/female relations out of a sort of sublimation--denying their own rape fantasies. In fact, says Hazen, ""rape fantasy is quite healthy""; while men fantasize about overcoming the adversity of battle and dangerous adventures (without really wanting to get hurt), women dream of overcoming adversity in love (without really wishing for rape's pain); hence the vast popularity of paperback-pulp rape/romances--and a literary tradition of female gothic horror (including Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market), of fiction preoccupied with love-and-marriage. Hazen rejects the revisionist, ""prescriptive"" criticism which distorts women's writing; she scorns the feminist fiction that puts man-hatred or role-reversal at the center of the female imagination. And, moving from literature to the larger issues, she takes on the feminist heavyweights. Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will ""dramatizes, condones, and even glorifies the hatred of men"" by exaggerating the threat and ubiquity of rape. (With insufficient evidence, Hazen claims that men ""hate"" rape, even ""in the imagination."") She scorns attempts at a female answer to male pornography, with a fairly simpleminded Vive la difference argument: ""Male pornography has to do with slippery bodies. . . the literature that provides women sexual excitement is romance."" She rejects both sorts of extreme feminist sexual politics: the ""androgynists"" and the ""Amazons"" (with a feverish attack on Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology). Finally, then: ""How intellectually shabby and gravely serious to advocate the destruction of masculinity, merely because men are the most disturbing aspect of our existence and because we are not brave enough to admit that the disturbance arises from the hope for love."" Frequently sketchy, occasionally confused, and sometimes simplistic--but a plainspoken argument, with flickers of undeniable insight, that may stir up some healthy controversy.

Pub Date: May 17, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983