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Barber more or less places himself above the tray -- chastising both the radical libbers and their male antagonists for their overkill rhetoric and, more important, for their fixation on female biology Mailer, Gilder, et al., shout ""anatomy is destiny"" and point to the animal kingdom: women were made to have babies, while men work, fight, build, etc. To this, says Barber, the feminists have responded by denigrating marriage and motherhood. Barger argues -- and who can gainsay him? -- that the real struggle should not be ""against nature"" but ""to reconstruct the polity,"" creating new institutions which will serve both ""our sexuality and our human aspirations""; personhood and maternity should not (as they often are today) be at odds. Barber's insistence on social justice as the key issue is welcome; and he is devastating when confronting the pseudo-ethology of the ""naturalists"" appealing to the lifestyles of the primordial ape. What is bothersome in this generally intelligent and always humane book is Barber's programmatic vagueness. He feels that the NOW legions should proceed with their battles for day care, equal employment opportunity, etc., but with a new ""attitude."" Giving the back of his hand to all those Open Marriage gurus, he makes the quixotic and stunning assertion that monogamy, only monogamy, can keep a marriage whole and intact -- he would make both marriage and divorce more difficult to achieve. Barber concedes that women are abused, discriminated against, conned, neglected, put down and more -- but he pleads with them not to confuse their plight as women with the suffering, frustration and dependency implicit in our common human condition. For all its utopianism, the book is saying something important: men are not the enemy; neither is nature. To consider them as such diminishes all of us.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Seabury