THE POLITICS OF WOMEN'S LIBERATION by Jo Freeman

THE POLITICS OF WOMEN'S LIBERATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This study claims that ""no one has really dealt with exactly how a movement starts or its reciprocal relationships with public policy."" Freeman takes Women's Liberation as a test case. The results, as they emerge on and between the lines, are at variance with her often murky glosses on them. But they add up to a clear diagnosis: the Women's ""movement;' in its 1960's NOW form, was not a grass-roots ""movement"" but an elite group of advocates directly launched by the government and never concerned with base-building. NOW's ""reciprocal relationships with public policy"" continued to reflect, rather than pressure, top-level decisions. Quite inconsistently she also says that ""The Women's Liberation Movement caught the government by surprise."" Freeman does not question this phenomenon as part of a more general, now-fizzled effort to set up Affirmative Action fights for shrinking benefits. She does emphasize the uncannily coordinated press campaign to build up the ""movement,"" and occasionally mentions its foundation funding. Though apparently herself a feminist, Freeman attributes the motives of participants to the rather Pavlovian concept of ""relative deprivation."" Such venomous intra-movement issues as the ""lavender menace"" of lesbianism are touched upon briefly and crisply. The ""younger branch"" of post- and anti-NOW feminists is described as so diffuse and anti-political as to invite more manipulation than ""structured"" groups. Substantive issues such as the content of protective legislation for women industrial workers receive the shortest of shrift; this is a political-science study of ""process,"" which, for all its jargon and equivocation, offers an interesting, if ambiguous, kind of hindsight.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
ISBN: 0595088996
Publisher: McKay