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by Phyllis Chesler

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56858-093-2

Chesler's latest missive from the feminist front is a superficial and poorly organized ``open letter'' to contemporary women that only regurgitates already spoken ideologies. Some 30 years after feminism's second wave of the 1960s reshaped the way Americans saw women, radical feminist Chesler (Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness, 1994, etc.) declares that today's third-wave feminists must remember the impact the women's movement has had on their lives. Concerned that conservatives, pro-sex feminists (like Susie Bright), and the not-yet-overthrown patriarchy have forced young women to disassociate themselves from feminism's original agenda, Chesler sets out to teach this new generation from her own experiences battling the male establishment. Letters to a Young Feminist is overwhelmingly ambitious in its scope of topics as Chesler seeks to provide commentary on issues including abortion, marriage, sex, religion, history, race, love, class, and sisterhood. But chapters that frequently don't venture beyond five pages never fully examine either the 1960s brand of feminist activism or what women can learn from it. While Chesler has toned down the exremist feminist ranting she exhibited in earlier books, statements like ``learn to enjoy the accusation of being a man-hater'' and ``patriarchal marriage is exceptionally dangerous for women and their children'' make her advice difficult to swallow or take seriously. Instead of attempting to address the real issues faced by feminism's newest members, Chesler looks to solve their problems by throwing outdated, militant feminist rhetoric at them. Trite platitudes end almost every chapter, encouraging women to enroll in ``Warrior Training 101'' and reminding them that ``no special skills are required in order to accomplish a great task.'' At a time when feminism is in great flux, this volume fails to offer any valuable advice to a group of women who desperately need it.