Women Visioniaries of Today Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow
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A trendy and jargon-laden celebration of contemporary feminist thought, edited by Ryan (A Grateful Heart, not reviewed, etc.). Ryan has solicited essays from 40 feminists in preparation for the impending millennium. The contributors are ethnically, though not ideologically, diverse. The essays sound remarkably repetitive, even employing the same tired phrasing (metaphors involving weaving abound). Ryan compiled these essays, she says, because she wanted to know what she should be doing —to navigate through these turbulent times— of change in education, technology, health care, etc. But the essays generally uphold the traditional —female— values (Ryan’s terminology) of relationality and empathy over the traditionally —male— value of action. In other words, readers looking for answers will find few of them in this book, which offers almost no concrete solutions to the global problems it bemoans. Rather, there are countless references to sacred feminine energy, Gaia, the Goddess, and women’s ways of knowing (strangely, religious feminists have found common essentialist ground with fundamentalists, who claim that women are inherently more spiritual then men). Some essays are, of course, superior to others. China Galland’s thoughtfully proposes the black Madonna as an excellent symbol because of her —multivalent darkness— which absorbs all races and their sufferings. Marianne Williamson and Gloria Steinem both venture into contemporary economics and break the book’s mold by offering some solid recommendations for political action. Also, in —Whose Millennium Is It?— Yoruba writer Luisah Teish reminds us that all of the anxiety and expectation focused on the millennium spring from a linear Christian view of time. With few exceptions, a modish, almost syrupy anthology with little intellectual stuff to recommend it. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1998
ISBN: 1-57324-129-6
Page count: 420pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1998