IMPROPER BEHAVIOR by Elizabeth Janeway


Email this review


An important and, for the most part, thoroughly convincing argument for the need to say ""No"" to the demands of a society in which conformity is becoming increasingly pandemic and the pressures to conform are exerted with ever-growing subtlety and force. Though possibly less controversial than Janeway herself believes, this is nonetheless an effective summing up of the ways in which Establishment values are promulgated and reinforced. More to the point, Janeway offers insights into effective strategies for combating what ""they"" say is ""proper."" A valuable polemic by one of America's leading social analysts. As author of the chapter on women's literature in The Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing and noted lecturer on feminist topics, Janeway quite expectably focuses much of her attention on women's concerns. It is here that she is most effective, her arguments reasoned and avoiding the shrillness that unfortunately afflicts some writing on this still-unresolved inequity. In an especially powerful argument, Janeway catalogues the reasons why responsibilities must be assumed and what these responsibilities are. Hers is not a defense of the status quo, however, but a challenging formula for the integration of women and other ""outsiders"" into a new society. One minor problem: Janeway's style can be off-putting in its circuitous sentence structure and in the repetitive bolstering of the arguments. At times, the litany-like recapitulations prove counterproductive in convincing the already-receptive reader. This caveat aside, however, this is a welcome addition to the shelf of women's studies, and one that should be taken to heart.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow