THE FEMALE FACTOR by Shari Steiner


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Social cartography"" is what Steiner calls this facile study of women in five European societies. She deals heavily, and heavy-handedly, in cultural archetypes and images: Brunhild, Guinevere, Madame de Pompadour. Each is supposed to embody a particular national view of woman. On the basis of this synthetic past, Steiner ushers us quickly into the present via She, Femina, and Elle--English, Scandinavian, and French chic women's magazines, and writes as though people as exceptional as Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, and Mary Quant stand for Italian, French, and English womanhood. True, Steiner does scan such things as divorce rates, childrearing practices, attitudes toward abortion, unwed mothers and working women, but sweeping generalities are her specialty. English women are hailed as ""crusty"" and ""cheeky""; Swedes are ""self-sufficient"" and ""responsible""; the Italian lady is ""seria"" and motherhood is still her fulfillment. It's all wrapped up neatly in two antipodes--The Lady and the Warrior Woman; the first predominates in the South and seeks and finds her satisfactions in a sphere apart from men, the second seeks camaraderie. Salable schlock for cover girls who fasten on snap labels as a substitute for complex, ambiguous realities.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Putnam