RIGHT FROM THE START: A Guide to Nonsexist Child Rearing by Selma Greenberg

RIGHT FROM THE START: A Guide to Nonsexist Child Rearing

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Like Carmichael's Non-Sexist Childraising (p. 819), this presses strongly for an end to the kind of practices that limit children because of sex, that program them for specific not-this-but-that roles, thereby excluding them from large areas of experience. Greenberg's argument is more militant in tone, more comprehensive in coverage, and far more extravagant in its claims for consequences. Like Carmichael, she knows the range of options available but concentrates on the more contrasting sexist and nonsexist examples, avoiding outrÉ alternatives. She looks at common (often suburban) practices and suggests modifications (such as daily outdoor exercise) which would benefit not just children (spatial development, vigor) but their parents as well. She also examines the limitations of conventional father-mother set-ups, power hierarchies in the house and elsewhere, school influences, toy and doll access, language biases, and the subliminal messages even the most liberated families must endure. But while much of her analysis has merit and is assured broad feminist support, some predictions are most unlikely (an end to sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion) and some views are shortsighted (virtual dismissal of all physical differences except genitalia). And her frequent citing of the exemplary Chinese system (observed during a recent tour) not only overlooks the scarcity of choices for everyone there but also ignores which haft of the sky Chinese women learn to hold up. Right from the Start may overstate its revolutionary potential and underestimate the tenacity of traditional family structures, but don't discount its obvious appeal.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin