EVERY MOTHER'S SON by Judith Arcane


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This is the kind of intense feminist tract that goes for the jugular with every male stereotype--and succeeds only in alienating the reader. Arcana is a Chicago-area teacher and writer in women's studies, intent on socializing her ten-year-old son away from the ""license to wield oppressive power."" The book leads off with her agonized journal entries on that subject over the last five years. She squirms when her son spars with playmates, recoils at the scent of male alliances, fights to include girls in his peer group, etc. Then, on the basis of 60 interviews with mothers and sons, she talks in a more general way about the limitations of maternal influence: ""Are we contractors rather than architects, following the specifications not of our own design?"" Yes, it's men who accomplish the dirty work of ""male socialization"": distant, disciplinary fathers; other boys, especially older ones; the macho images that pervade the media and advertising. Violent team sports are also implicated, along with the obvious correlate, war. And When sons grow to manhood, culture directs them away from a close maternal bond, lest they become ""mamas' boys."" This is heavily peppered with quotes from Arcana's subjects, but 60 interviews, however diverse the interviewees, simply do not justify frequent assertions about ""a majority"" of mothers and sons. Unreliable--and in any event not particularly new.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday