CROSS SECTIONS from a decade of change by Elizabeth Janeway

CROSS SECTIONS from a decade of change

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this varied but unswerving collection of articles and speeches from the 1970s, the dean of American feminists echoes and amplifies the themes of her major works (Man's World, Woman's Place; Between Myth and Morning; Powers of the Weak). Central is ""the need to understand process as a first step toward managing change."" And that means understanding history: ""what we have made and what has happened to us and to the world because of our making."" Thus, a section entitled ""History"" includes reviews and short pieces on 1920s feminists, Victorian prostitutes, women's education--as well as an update of Janeway's important summary of ""The Women's Movement."" Essays on ""Work""--""the work place as it is [and] its impact on women moving in""--discuss the future of ""Women and Technology"" and also past intersections; thus, ""Rehumanizing Work"" tells how it got dehumanized in the first place. Other historical essays--on incest and the loss of ""sexual paradigms""--try to untangle sexual liberation from women's liberation. ""Society is not offering us liberation but simply another set of directives,"" Janeway concludes. A section on ""Literature"" includes her long (and necessarily somewhat spotty) survey of women's literature since 1945--originally written for The Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing--and an insightful piece on ""Family Themes in American Literature."" But Janeway writes best about what she calls ""Dailyness"": the commonplace stuff that ""falls through the sieve of history."" Encompassing the range of politics, economics, psychology, anthropology, literature, she illuminates the ""Midlife Crisis"" (""There does not exist a convincing pattern for an approved way to live out the second half of life"") and the sad consequences of separating women's rights from human rights. Although ideas are repeated in this collection, most bear repeating--and not only feminists will find them worth a second thought.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow