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French takes on global sexism from the fall of the ancient goddess-worshiping societies to routine modern-day oppression of women in every nation of the world--quite a large bite to chew, and not always thoroughly masticated. ""Humans are the only species in which one sex consistently preys upon the other,"" French proclaims in this determined attempt to sound an alarm to women around the world. ""Men's need to dominate women may be based in their own sense of marginality or emptiness; we do not know its root, and men are making no effort to discover it. But men's long-standing war against women is now, in reaction to women's movements across the world, taking on a new ferocity, new urgency, and new veneers."" Dating the birth of male insecurity to a decrease in dependence on hunting in ancient matriarchal societies (which, French claims, led to defensive efforts to dominate women and nature through hunting cults, male initiation rites, male deities, and, eventually, the state-sanctioned ""ownership"" of women's bodies), the author asserts that today's nations continue to wage war against women: systemically, through organized religion and international economic policies that fail to value unpaid but indispensable ""women's work""; institutionally, in medicine, science, and law; culturally, via sexist language, advertising, arts, and other media; and individually, through largely unpunished rape, wife-beating, sexual harassment, and incest. French's passion, though otherwise somewhat reminiscent of Susan Faludi's Backlash (1991), is seriously undermined by her overambitious attempt to investigate sexism in every society at once--as well as by undocumented, sweeping accusations (""all male violence toward women is part of a concerted campaign"") and unchecked hyperbole (""Since patriarchy began, prostitution is the only work for which men pay women enough to support themselves"") that obscure the many facts that French reveals once her anger abates. A feminist call to arms--headstrong and provocative.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 034538248X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster