TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT JERUSALEM: A Collection of Essays and Poems by Ann Oakley

TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT JERUSALEM: A Collection of Essays and Poems

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A British feminist delivers a feisty, ""put-up-your-dukes"" attack on sexism and classism in today's medical profession, the social sciences and the world in general. Drawn in large part from speeches delivered to various international conferences and from articles published in several feminist and scientific journals, Oakley's essays grapple with such issues as what the author perceives as doctors' widespread insensitivity to women's needs and the common male evaluation of women as emotionally unstable and intellectually inferior. Oakley views the world from her position as polemicist, parent, poet, sociologist and cancer survivor. In each of these roles she is appalled and infuriated by how little say women have in controlling their own destinies. Discussing motherhood, for example, she writes, ""When a woman does not feel that she in some sense directed the course of her own childbirth and is able to direct the course of her own motherhood, she is more liable to come out of it with damaged self-esteem, and with a perception of her baby and herself as strangers produced by strangers."" Despite a certain awkwardness in the prose, the argument hits home. Oakley is equally incensed by how little information she was given while undergoing iridium wire implant treatment for cancer. ""Most doctors seem unable to confront their own feelings about cancer,"" she comments. The statement will strike a responsive chord with many readers who have battled not only the disease but their physician's ""professional objectivity""--Oakley would probably say ""indifference""--as well. Oakley is less successful when she turns her attention to poetry, however, and the inclusion of these rather flat and predictable verses vitiates the impact of the book. Too, her decision to introduce the sets of poems with brief descriptions of how and why they were written seems ill-advised. If poetry must be ""explained"" in prose, it's just not doing its job. The essays, however, more than make up for the weaknesses. Read this for its provocative ideas--and don't be put off by the somewhat slapdash writing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Basil Blackwell