In this stirring rebuke to the doomsday writings of feminist authors such as Susan Faludi (Backlash
), Cathy Young provides a commonsense approach to resolving the political and personal war between the sexes. There is no "war against women," proclaims Young, who smartly rebuts the phony scholarship of advocacy groups on a series of controversial issues, from the incidence of domestic violence (not as frequent as you might think) to the wage gap (much smaller than you've been told). Young's intelligent handling of this data--the strongest aspect of the book--allows her to advance dozens of contrarian ideas. Although many of her targets are on the political left, she certainly is no right-winger. In fact, Young embraces many aspects of the sexual revolution, and devotes an entire chapter to attacking conservative authors such as George Gilder and F. Carolyn Graglia for their views on gender. In the final chapter of Ceasefire
, Young offers a series of proposals for de-escalating the gender wars: don't assume sexism is the root cause of all women's problems, rewrite sexual harassment law, demand that husbands and wives serve as equal parents, and so on. Many readers will haggle with Young over several of her interpretations, but by book's end she probably will have them on her side. A well-argued and carefully reasoned polemic. --John J. Miller
From Kirkus Reviews
A call for men and women to stand down from the gender wars, culminating with a 12-step program that is intended to lay common ground in ``trying to make life better for all of uswomen, men, and our children.'' The author's thesis is that, as feminists of the 1970s achieved the goals they appropriately soughti.e., equality in the workplace and elsewhere in societyideologies hardened. Young disputes the feminist belief that the personal is political; whats personal is personal, she claims, and the battle for equal rights is not an excuse for portraying men as fundamentally malevolent.'' Although feminists themselves are divided regarding various issuespornography, most visiblythey share, according to the author, ``a propensity for sweeping statements based on modest evidence.'' Young offers evidence that other basic feminist credos are mistaken: e.g., that male violence is directed primarily against women or that male privilege comes without any price (men die younger, she points out). Young, a journalist who describes herself as a ``dissident feminist,'' contends that rape is not a bias crime. She also examines the men's movement, where men often take on the role of victim, and what she views as the confused response from political conservatives regarding gender roles. The 12 steps to an egalitarian society include such seemingly innocuous (but, on examination, distinctly provocative) propositions as Take gender politics out of the war on domestic violence and In politics, stop treating women as an interest group and acting as if womens claims were more legitimate than mens. A bucket of cool water on whiners of both sexes, along with a convincing appeal to look ``fairly and compassionately at both sides of these conflicts.'' -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.