Kirkus Reviews QR Code
TO BE REAL by Rebecca Walker

TO BE REAL

Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism

By Rebecca Walker

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-47261-7
Publisher: Doubleday

 In an attempt to break free of ``prescribed'' feminist expectations, this collection of 21 essays from a diverse sampling of young feminists provides a treasure chest of hidden personal desires and good political intentions. Walker (contributing editor of Ms. magazine and daughter of novelist Alice Walker) has compiled an illuminating anthology exhorting those interested in the feminist project to, as contributor Gina Dent writes, think ``about how to take the religion out of feminism, how to break down the illusion that we comprise a community that has agreed upon its rules of existence.'' So, we hear from many womenand three menabout how they have learned to be true to themselves while still being loyal to the women's movement. Just as most of these writers would reject ideals of Barbie-doll beauty or June Cleaverlike domesticity, they now confront another ideal: the perfect feminist. Failure to measure up has led to a new form of self-loathing. Here the authors explore their own idiosyncracies, not as failures, but as benign differences. The anthology includes pieces by a Filipina who loves a white man, an African-American man who explores the black lesbian within him, a supermodel who lectures on women's empowerment. Gloria Steinem's foreword and Angela Davis's afterword offer historical perspective on second-wave feminism and challenge the younger, third wavers' take on feminist attitudes. Steinem says, ``Imagine how frustrating it is to be held responsible for some of the very divisions you've been fighting against.'' That the contributors want to end sexism, racism, and homophobia is taken for granted, but within that framework they hope to overcome differences and disapproval and join forces. Specifically, they want to supplant identity politics with a more fluid and tolerant politics of ambiguity. Racially, sexually, and ideologically wide-ranging; a much needed and thought-provoking contribution to contemporary feminist discourse.