WHO STOLE FEMINISM? by Christina Hoff Sommers


How Women Have Betrayed Women
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 This exploration of the current state of feminist affairs is thought-provoking but confuses categories of feminism. Sommers (Philosophy/Clark Univ.) directs needed critical attention to shoddy feminist research but doesn't acknowledge that such methodological shortcomings exist in many fields. She uses the term ``gender feminists'' to describe women who see the world through the ``sex/gender system'' and who further believe that the ``dominant gender works to keep women cowering and submissive.'' Ironically, she weaves a theory of conspiracy equal in force to those she seeks to debunk. Lumping together all kinds of feminists, from Marxist to cultural to radical, her argument boils down to an advocacy of a feminism rooted in traditional liberalism as opposed to all others. Sommers repeatedly claims that most women are not represented by the ``ideologues,'' a valid argument, but she then presumes to speak on the majority's behalf without providing persuasive evidence that most women are liberal feminists. Sommers cites several specific examples of students disgruntled by women's studies courses, but anyone who has ever taught realizes that a percentage of students leave every course disgruntled about something. According to Sommers, the ``gender feminists'' hold tremendous power within academic and bureaucratic institutions and are working to transform the world by ``realigning the goals of education, purging the curriculum of its white male bias.'' Since many women support the ``gender feminists,'' Sommers succeeds in portraying the average woman as naãve and manipulable. Her fear that ``transformationists'' will destroy the academy and free speech presumes that young women and men are incapable of critical analysis. Her challenges to feminist ideology are appreciated, but her assumptions about the ``conspiracy'' of ``gender feminists'' merely rehash arguments against political correctness and concerns about free speech.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-79424-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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