GROWING UP FREE: Raising Your Child in the 80's by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

GROWING UP FREE: Raising Your Child in the 80's

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More than everything you wanted to know about sex-role-stereotyping and how to combat it. A giant volume (627 pages), cataloguing the benefits of equality of opportunity and the evils of male supremacy, plus guidance for parents on every front--from what to name the baby to brother-sister rivalries. Did every scrap of evidence have to be included to convince a skeptical reader? And much of the advice is familiar: household worksharing, enhanced communications skills, TV watching with the kids. A chapter on sexuality endorses early, forthright explanations; accurate terminology, especially for girls; and contraceptive information--indeed, failure to provide the latter is seen as child abuse. The fear that non-sexist childrearing leads to homosexuality is dismissed with attacks on various assumptions--that sex-roles determine sexuality, that specific ingredients make a child homosexual, that homosexuality is the worst thing that can happen to anyone; ""Don't worry about how to raise a heterosexual child,"" the reader is told, ""worry about how not to be a homophobic parent."" Chapters on the media, toys, schools, and language reiterate the pervasiveness of stereotyping, and suggest countermeasures: talking with children about what they see and hear, writing letters of protest, keeping scrapbooks of non-sexist ads. While allowing for some gender differences, particularly in the varying effects of the same parental treatment on boys and girls, most of the advice assumes that parents have qualities like assertiveness, adventurousness, high aspirations, and a sense of personal effectiveness in mind for their children, no matter what their sex. Examples and suggestions thus tend to focus on girls, without making much of the possible benefits of increased options for boys (assumed to be assertive, adventurous, etc., etc., etc.). While sources are carefully documented, and footnotes abound (147 in the chapter on schools alone), the text does not indicate when studies were done--statistics on TV coverage of women in sports date from 1974, sexist quotations from psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg from 1966--nor who the subjects were: urban, rural, rich, poor, bright, whatever. The problem of sexism is a real one--yes, a ""cultural sledgehammer""--but Pogrebin has also written a sledgehammer of a book: too much, too heavy-handed.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1980
Publisher: McGraw-Hill