A FEARFUL FREEDOM: Women's Flight from Equality by Wendy Kaminer

A FEARFUL FREEDOM: Women's Flight from Equality

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Equal rights for both sexes rather than the establishment of protective sanctions for women--that's the central proposal in this provocative defense of feminism by a lawyer, journalist, and author of Women Volunteering (1984). As an increasing number of American women take advantage of the freedoms won for them by feminists, many discover, Kaminer says, that a self-directed life is neither as inevitable nor as fulfilling as they'd expected. The result is a growing tendency to blame feminism for removing the supports women once enjoyed (higher alimony, automatic child custody, legally enforced marriages) without providing necessary benefits (disability leave due to pregnancy, affordable child care, relief from single-parent poverty, etc.). Kaminer argues that it is not the feminist movement that is at fault, but the capricious ways in which judges, employers, and conservative governmental administrations have interpreted the new laws. Illustrating her point with specific cases, Kaminer convincingly points out that older women deprived of alimony are denied compensation for their contribution to the ""business"" of marriage; that divorced mothers deprived of proper child support are being discriminated against, as are divorced fathers deprived of sufficient visitation rights; and that disabled workers, both pregnant females and unwell males, have suffered equally due to employers' uncharitable disability policies. The desire for protective laws that provide exclusive privileges for women because ""only women get pregnant,"" Kaminer argues, maintains a separate-but-equal policy that would put women at a disadvantage in the job market and institutionalize a stereotyped view of a ""weaker"" female sex. We live in a difficult transition period between the introduction of feminist laws and their fair implementation in everyday life, she maintains: Feminism has brought women partway along; no one said the rest of the journey would be easy. A compelling presentation by a uniquely inspiring writer.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1990
Publisher: Addison-Wesley