THE FEMINIST CHALLENGE: The Movement for Women's Liberation in Britain and the United States by David Bouchier

THE FEMINIST CHALLENGE: The Movement for Women's Liberation in Britain and the United States

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A handy guide to the origins and development of contemporary feminism couldn't be more timely--and British sociologist Bouchier (presently at the U. of Connecticut) has written one that is succinct and knowledgeable, if not terrifically penetrating. Bouchier outlines the reasons that feminism died down after the vote was won and bounded back in the Sixties, and he carefully distinguishes three major lines (often intertwined) of modern feminist thought: liberal, socialist, and radical. The bulk of the book is a year-by-year account of the movement in England (where the thrust is socialist) and the US (predominantly liberal and reformist with strong radical voices). Another chapter sketches opponents of feminism--men in general, anti-feminist women of the Schafly type, government, the media, some intellectuals, and the political right--but never questions where the money comes from. A balance sheet tallies gains and losses under the Seven Demands of the British movement and several key issues in the American campaign: equal opportunity, the ERA fight, political power, abortion and family policies, sexual politics and male violence. More at home with the British movement, Bouchier sometimes goofs on the US (Marge Piercy, he says, is a ""science fiction writer,"" and the US has 52 states.) And when he speculates on future feminist scenarios--""equality, androgyny or separatism""--he manages, though eminently thoughtful and circumspect, to say a little something to discourage just about everyone. Yet, when he concludes that ""Feminism has always been a fluid movement,"" few could disagree. As a map of that flow and a chart of some of its undercurrents, this is a useful book. Bouchier, indeed, has taken on a difficult task, and performed it well.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Schocken