THE DEEP DIVIDE: Why American Women Resist Equality by Sherrye Henry

THE DEEP DIVIDE: Why American Women Resist Equality

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This book's know-it-all attitude cancels out an interesting issue: the ""self-destructive chasm"" between what American women say they want and their actions. Henry (Alone Together, 1982) is troubled by the question of why we don't have equality when so many women say they want it. To seek the answer, she commissioned a marketing firm to arrange focus groups of women from different geographical areas and question them regarding their feelings about equality at work and in the home. Each group is identified by only one characteristic: The group tagged ""Young Chicago Professionals"" includes only white women; Latina and African-American women have their own groups; and there is a control group of self-proclaimed feminists. The focus group results become a leaping off point for Henry to enter into an unwieldy discussion of various feminist issues. She cites all the correct feminist sources, including Susan Faludi, yet there is a tinge of backlash to the entire project, which rarely gives credence to the idea that women can be held back by forces out of their control. When Henry suggests that feminists need to tone down their rhetoric -- not their message -- and present a more mainstream front, she reinforces the very representation that she claims has impeded feminism's influence: ""Feminist leaders should re-tool their image from radical embattled 60s demonstrators into contemporary, determined supporters of justice who work within the system whenever possible to accomplish their goals."" Furthermore, when mainstream women in her focus groups make general comments about the lack of femininity among feminists, Henry interprets it as fear of lesbianism, and she notes rather questionably that ""lesbians have, in fact, spearheaded the movement for years."" A self-defeating project that bulldozes instead of informing.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Macmillan