SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL: The International Women's Movement Anthology by Robin--Ed. Morgan

SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL: The International Women's Movement Anthology

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (and including Palestine and the UN): 71 spokeswomen describe the feminist consciousness and activities of their respective societies. Editor Morgan (Sisterhood Is Powerful) sees this range as proving the ubiquity of woman as ""inside agitator""--her potential as a worldwide political force. And whether international feminism or more simply national feminism is presented, most of these very short selections (averaging five pages, with a statistical headnote) do succeed in suggesting what is unique to each setting--and what is shared. The authors form ""a deliberately eclectic mix""--guerrillas, scholars, novelists, parliamentarians. They include Greece's Margaret Chase Papandreou and Egypt's Nawal El Saadawi (imprisoned by Sadat for her feminist writings). Among Western representatives, the most interesting detail theoretical controversies and/or organizational conflicts: Rita LiljestrÖm's analysis of the Swedish debate over gender similarity versus singularity, Simone de Beauvoir's criticisms of the ""Psych et Po"" (Psychoanalysis and Politics) tendency in French feminism. Less successful are those on West Germany (a pastiche of letters and a poem, contributed by Renate Berger, Ingrid Kolb, and Marielouise Janssen-Jurreit) and on Britain (Amanda Sebestyen reveals little of intense debates except to decry their successive ""compulsory ordinances""). By contrast, Third World writers emphasize marrying the theoretical to the practical, as in the aptly entitled contribution from the Sudan by Amna Elsadik Badri, ""Women's Studies--and a New Village Stove."" Many emphasize indigenous cultural patterns and histories above Western feminist inspiration. Says Morocco's Fatima Mernissi: ""Every time I come across a Western feminist who thinks I am indebted to her for my own development. . . I worry not so much about the prospects of an international sisterhood, but about the possibility of Western feminism's transforming itself into a popular social movement able to produce structural change."" Few entries are simple defenses of national policy (among the few, Vietnam, Nicaragua). Writing about the Soviet Union, Tatyana Mamonova attacks KGB harassment of feminist women, the associated problems of male alcoholism and domestic violence, the unavailability of effective contraception. Several among the most eloquent are by exiles: Rumania's Elena Chiriac (""The 'Right' to Be Persecuted""), Iran's Mahnaz Afkhami (""A Future in the Past--The 'Prerevolutionary' Women's Movement""), and Haiti's Cacos La Conaïve (""Haiti--A Vacation Paradise of Hell""). Altogether: a useful resource for American feminists just beginning to look beyond their particular interests and national confines.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
ISBN: 1558611606
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday