ROCKING THE CRADLE OF SEXUAL POLITICS

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WOMEN SAID INCEST

Armstrong issues a sobering call to repoliticize the issue of incest, which has fallen prey to the mental health field, its cadre of ``experts,'' and an antifeminist backlash. In 1978 Armstrong published Kiss Daddy Goodnight, which presented incest as ``the cradle of sexual politics'' where the rights of women and children collide with male entitlement and abuse of power. The attendant media hype turned Armstrong into ``the World's First Walking, Talking Incest Victim''; and since then she has witnessed the telling of incest stories become an end in itself. The personal is no longer political, she says, just public, as people accept fees to tell of their abuse on TV talk shows. She identifies a trajectory in public attitudes toward incest: first, it was ignored; in the mid-1980s the publication of The Courage to Heal (the incest ``Bible'') encouraged a therapeutic, personal approach to ``recovery'' devoid of any social significance; now, Armstrong argues, the issue is dominated by antifeminist backlash and sensational tales of satanic ritual abuse and of men and their families wrongly accused as a result of false- memory syndrome. Virtually ``every aspect of the social response to the issue of incest,'' she writes, ``has implied a policy of appeasement toward men.'' Armstrong documents a decade and a half of evasive responses to the problem of incest during which the number of children being sexually abused continued apace. These responses ranged from viewing incest as a mental illness rather than an abuse of power to abuse prevention ``games'' for children that overlook the fact that the offender is often a parent or trusted adult. An important, incendiary, unapologetic history written in hopes of rekindling the possibility of radical change—nothing less than a redistribution of gender power.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-62471-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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