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Letters to a Young Feminist Hardcover – December 18, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Edition edition (December 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568580932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568580937
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,081,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An excellent accompaniment to any compendium of women's issues, academic or personal, Phyllis Chesler's Letters to a Young Feminist may at first appear to contain things we've previously heard. But have we remembered? Chesler reminds us that, while feminism (she includes women and men) may appear to have fulfilled a purpose and run its course, the issues of unequal social power and unequal treatment are still real (against both women and men). Her discussion of the "traditionally" masculine art of teamwork, in comparison to feminism's ultimate democratic goal of multiple voices making universal decisions, illustrates that problem solving and distribution of power are qualities of both approaches. Like Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own, Chesler admonishes individuals to seek economic freedom. And like Rainer Marie Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Chesler's book offers an introduction to feminism as well as recollections of social history.

From Booklist

Libraries with active gender studies collections will want to acquire these missives directed to a new generation of feminists and potential feminists from a psychology and women's studies professor whose other, groundbreaking books include Women and Madness (1972), With Child (1979), and Mothers on Trial (1986). In brief essays, using a conversational tone and frequent details from her own life, Chesler examines society and feminism, speaking "strong truths . . . in a loving voice," describing feminist gains and "what remains to be done," helping younger women (and men) "to see [their] place in the historical scheme of things, so [they] may choose whether and how to stand [their] feminist ground in history." Chesler's is a strong but nuanced position: in considering patriarchy, she consistently points out that even successful women seldom have access to real sources of power, but she readily admits that support from women strengthens patriarchy, and that women (including feminist women) can be as cruel to their sisters as any man. A provocative message from one generation to another. Mary Carroll

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on November 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this offering, Chesler, the author of 1972's ground breaking "Women and Madness" attempts to connect with my generation and inspire us to become better activists from her mistakes.
It's a great concept... if overlooking the blatantly condescending tone throughout the book. Unlike Steinem, Pogrebin, Davis, hooks, etc.. Chesler conveniently forgets that we have lived through the changes wrought by her generation and thus do not want to return to the old days.
Although the book is written as a series of conversations , it actually comes off as a stern one-sided lecture where our interjections of knowlledge are not solicited nor welcomed. This self-contratulatory platitude continues despite evidence that generations of people intentionally raised on feminist principles are comming of age, and therefore are more aware of gender issues than she chooses to realize.
In fact, we are less likely to perceive those changes in women's status as threatening because of having grown up alongside them. Feminism is a natural language for my generation, and the activist among us are already intimately fammilar with the basics repitiously presented in this book.
Additionally, we have our own subculture of feminist industries (Riot Grrrl Music, independent zines, webpages, and prolific writers/public speakers) demonstrating that we know the battle has not completely been won, and previously secured rights must continuously be defended.
Instead of issuing an angry and self-righteous screed, the least she could have done was familiarize herself with our work, and our feminist culture. Even if the words and issues are not exactly identical to those of her generation, our contributions to feminist thought are no less valid and deserve to be treated seriously.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Maria do Mar Pereira on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book while browsing the section on feminist literature (for teenagers). I ordered it immediately and read it eagerly. I must even admit I walked into a couple of lampposts while reading it in the street... I loved it. I felt identified with much of what I read and I thought a lot about the advice, insight and "life lessons" the author provides. I believe she has managed to give a critical and honest perspective of the mistakes and achievements of the previous generations of feminists. I think that such a perspective is determinant to help the new generations find their path, their way and their place in the Women's Movement. We are so used to accepting society the way it is that we sometimes forget to question what is established or to adopt a critical view towards what is expected and required from us. Reading this book, I was able to understand what has been done and what is still left to do. It also helped me to learn what my generation could do and how and when it can act. So, I can say that "Letters to a Young Feminist" has been a major influence on me. I was 16 when I read it (I'm 18 now) and I believe it can be a very positive influence for other teenagers (girls and boys) and adults. Don't hesitate to buy it!
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Phyllis Chesler reminds the third wave precisely what feminism is and why it is so vitally important that feminists not lose sight of their goals. She presents the second wave's foundation and history in a manner that does not require the reader to be versed in feminist thought, all the while outlining their successes and failures. Her suggestions and warnings are composed from the wisdom of experience not merely as a to-do list. This might possibly be the third wave's defining moment: a volume of wealth is contained within these pages, and one must choose to do more than just read it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always read the enemy's mail. If you want to understand what radical feminists are up to, this is the book to read.
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