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VAGABONDING by Christina Thurmer-Rohr


Feminist Thinking Cut Loose

by Christina Thurmer-Rohr

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8070-6756-3
Publisher: Beacon

 Here, German radical feminist ThÅrmer-Rohr (Women's Studies/Technische UniversitÑt, Berlin) offers a provocative, unsettling, and maddeningly inconclusive critique of women's roles in ``male'' society. Written between 1983 and 1987, these 11 compelling but repetitive essays, rendered into lean, urgent prose by translator Weil, bristle with rage and contempt. The anger is directed at our ``eminently stupid and fateful march into disaster,'' as exemplified by the despoiling of the environment and the development of nuclear power. And since the bomb is a ``symbol of civilized patriarchal thought,'' the scorn is reserved mostly for those ``laughable and embarrassing,'' morally ``bankrupt,'' ``past and present criminals''--men. Not that women are let off the hook. By entangling themselves in the ``normal doings of male society'' and backing up men by providing and maintaining homes, they are accomplices to their own slavery. Also suspect, and masterfully dissected, are various New Age and ``transformational'' theorists, whose embrace of ``feminine'' values appears as yet another condescending and exclusionary tactic. Solutions? Well, ThÅrmer- Rohr is explicitly anti-utopian, disillusioned by Marxism, and distrustful of all future-oriented, ``hopeful'' philosophical constructs. She says a lot about ``resistance,'' ``protest,'' and the necessity of ``cross-thinking,'' presumably toward some gynocentric alternate to androcentric horrors, but she doesn't quite say how to get there or to what purpose--nor where men fit into this. Real life crashes through the furious lecturing only when ThÅrmer-Rohr deals with the letters that her father, an Evangelical priest and Nazi, wrote home before his battlefield death. This forced exposure to good existing alongside unspeakable evil, passionately analyzed, might have made for a powerful book- -but ThÅrmer-Rohr chose to write this one. Shedding lots of heat, but nary a glimmer of light, the essays ultimately implode upon themselves, producing only bewilderment and a bit of laughter.