WOMEN IN SEXIST SOCIETY: Studies in Power and Powerlessness by Vivian & Barbara E. Moran -- Eds. Gornick

WOMEN IN SEXIST SOCIETY: Studies in Power and Powerlessness

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This big collection offers great catholicity of perspectives, topics, and levels of analysis. Women's ascribed nature, acculturated dispositions, and actual potentialities are examined with a natural emphasis on family relations in such ""straight,"" scholarly essays as Chadorow's cross-cultural survey, Bernard's ""Paradox of the Happy Marriage,"" Bart's study of depression in middle-aged women, and Bardwick and Douvan's valuable overview of the socialization of women. There are several articles Oil Beauty, the most simplistic ones not the least interesting, as when Stannard agrees in effect with Playboy that the unadorned ordinary Female is ugly, and equates human appreciation of beauty with synthetic norms and imposed obligations. ""Sexism"" as manifested in various spheres gets anatomized in perfunctory pieces on advertising, ordinary language and linguistic theory, American fiction and textbooks; Ozick and Nochlin however, make splendid contributions on the subject of women artists, writers, and the social character of creativity. Pierce provides a first-rate piece of analytic philosophy on the abuse and inherent fallacy of ""natural law"" arguments about femininity; Weisstein surveys the way psychologists construct the female ""with a sense of their own infallibility rarely found in the secular world""; and Chester describes the therapeutic situation in terms of women patients' warped motives and male therapists' manipulative misperceptions. The most political articles include Stimpson on women's liberation and black civil rights. Firestone on the history of American feminism, a radical lesbian manifesto, and Willis' marvelous polemic against the dogma of brainwashed consumerism. The few articles on sex are slight and unoriginal; sex and politics come together in Kate Millett's showpiece tape-recording of two exceptional prostitutes. The anthology lacks serious articles on women at work or on the actual and possible politics of neo-feminism. On balance, in range and quality, it remains a standout.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1971
Publisher: Basic Books