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by Nancy Friday

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017140-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Friday (Women on Top, 1991, etc.) describes women's self-image from infancy through old age, with lots of tiresome editorializing about the state of the women's movement today. Friday's defense of men against the tyranny of feminism may cause some controversy, but the interest in this disorganized ramble is the clutter of anecdotes, gossip, sex education, and digression, like toiletries piled on the vanity table of a woman who has spent several decades dressing up to face the world. How ``we women'' feel about ourselves and our beauty, Friday theorizes, begins in the nursery with the ``Giantess'' (a.k.a. mother). ``Woman born of woman is not a good teacher, especially in that area where she has been taught to deodorize, to treat as an offensive necessity.'' Since most women spend a lifetime hating the way they look, Friday advocates bringing fathers into the child- rearing process. It would be especially good, says Friday, if fathers were in charge of toilet training, because men do not hate their genitals the way ``antisex'' mothers do. Unlike Matriarchal Feminists and Victim Feminists, who blame their problems on ``Bad Men'' and disparage the attainment of power through beauty, Friday encourages women to compete with all the ammunition at their command, as Gloria Steinum supposedly has. Men, from John Kenneth Galbraith to Mort Zuckerman, ``as well as women would . . . assist Steinem for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was and is that she is lovely to look at.'' Writing of her girlhood in the Charleston of the 1940s and '50s, Friday's mother and sister, she remembers, drank gin to get them through the pains of menstruation. So, on the first day of her first period, Friday imitated her role models and broke through a neighbor's window to get to the gin bottle. Friday keeps hammering home her message, but peeking through the psychobabble and harangue is a tantalizing memoir. ($175,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio satellite tour)