Your mother’s feminism, sent back to the front lines with refurbished weapons.

IN OUR PRIME

HOW OLDER WOMEN ARE REINVENTING THE ROAD AHEAD

A feminist scholar rallies the troops in the battle against injustices to older women.

Douglas (Communication Studies/Univ. of Michigan; Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work Is Done, 2010, etc.) melds history, advocacy, and media criticism as she calls for a counteroffensive against America’s “war on older women.” With alternately insightful and overfamiliar arguments, the author makes the case for a new wave of feminist activism to challenge the “gendered ageism” that sidelines women of her boomer cohort or implies that they’re all “supposed to go plant peonies and play peekaboo” with grandchildren. In the book’s best sections, Douglas smartly analyzes portrayals of older women in popular culture, including movies and TV shows like Book Club and The Golden Girls. While images have diversified, the media often depict older women only to exploit them as sales targets or foster what marketers call “aspirational aging.” Even AARP magazine has been “moving down the age chain” and once featured then-49-year-old Brad Pitt saying, “Personally, I like aging.” As the author notes, “come back to me in thirty years, buster. And as a woman, with no health insurance.” Douglas also lands well-placed jabs at “anti-aging” cosmetics and diseasemongering pharmaceutical ads built on the “infantilizing strategy of using cartoons.” Unfortunately, the author gives too little attention, too late in the book, to the issue that polls repeatedly have identified as the No. 1 concern of older women—health care—and claims as feminist issues some concerns that don’t affect women exclusively, such as Medicare. Elsewhere, she offers a to-do list with timeworn tasks such as forming discussion groups, “kind of an update on [1970s] consciousness-raising,” and holds up, as a model of engagement, the late Gray Panthers founder Maggie Kuhn, who in her 70s successfully lobbied Congress against the mandatory retirement age of 65. Women of any age can learn from trailblazers like Kuhn, but those seeking a fresher and more urgent battle cry will find it in books like Jennifer Block’s recent Everything Below the Waist (2019).

Your mother’s feminism, sent back to the front lines with refurbished weapons.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-65255-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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