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Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror (Nation Books) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Nation Books
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (November 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560254505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560254508
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,352,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The "opposite of fundamentalism is feminism," concludes journalist Katha Pollitt in her introduction to this dense and provocative anthology of women's responses to the global rise of religious extremism. To understand what fundamentalism is about, why (or so the authors argue) it targets women and why, again according to the authors, enlightened people of all persuasions, religious or secular, must work to defeat it is the mission of the more than 30 entries (many reprinted from the Nation) in this volume. A variety of academic, activist and religious feminists, such as Barbara Ehrenreich, Eve Ensler, Karen Armstrong and Arundhati Roy, agree that fundamentalism is about social power and control, not about returning to religious "fundamentals." Thus, the rise of fundamentalism is traced to discontent with and disruptions caused by modernization and globalization. Several writers trace these dynamics in Afghanistan, Algeria, India, the Gaza Strip-even the rise of the Christian Right in modern America. Most religions-featured here are Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism-have extremist wings characterized by misogynistic theory and practices. Feminist responses have been varied, but follow two major paths: either rejection of the religion in favor of a more secular culture, or a reclaiming of the right to interpret the religion in more female-supportive ways. The book's final section explores the meaning of what the authors see as the real global struggle: not East vs. West or tradition vs. modernity, but secular, enlightened society vs. fundamentalist theocracy. A compendium of energizing political discourse, this anthology is a substantial contribution to an alternative view of the war on terror.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Images of Afghani women hidden in bulky burkhas as if their bodies affronted men and tempted them to sin are among the most vivid images of religious fundamentalism. But is there any difference between the attitude that fosters such visual elimination of femininity and, say, the American pro-life movement that claims the right to determine women's biological destiny? In gripping short essays, women scholars and writers take on the question of the anti-woman attitude common to religious fundamentalisms. Iranian feminist Janet Afary examines political manifestations of Muslim fundamentalism; renowned novelist Arundhati Roy examines how fascism can grow when religion turns from the spiritual to become political; political scientist Rosalind Petchesky discusses the connections between fundamentalism and global capitalism; playwright Eve Ensler, renowned for The Vagina Monologues (1998), vividly portrays Afghani women she encountered in their war-torn land. Although the contributors' styles vary from scholarly to op-ed, the underlying message is the same: fundamentalism is fundamentally antiwoman, whether it appears in the East or the West. An important if not especially hopeful book. Patricia Monaghan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Liza Featherstone on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a really terrific book, confronting some of the most urgent questions in our world today. Is secular feminism a purely Western phenomenon? is religious fundamentalism always at odds with women's equality? should American power be used to free women in other countries, as Bush claimed he was freeing Afghani women from the Taliban? With fundamentalist Islam -- and repression of women -- on the rise in post-war Iraq, and fundamentalist Christians opposed to women's freedom of choice running the USA, the questions this book raises are tragically timely. The authors bring fascinatingly diverse perspectives to the table. Some are strongly committed to the secular, others committed to more humane, egalitarian interpretations of their faith. This book contains writing by some of the sharpest living female intellectuals, and represents a wide range of experiences, political and religious views and nationalities. Betsy Reed has done a wonderful job of culling and shaping this work into a beautifully conversational whole. Katha Pollitt's introduction is, like all her writing, brilliant: elegantly irreverent and clear-headed. Provocative and absorbing -- everyone should find something to disagree with! Buy it now!!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emerald Eye on February 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
This collection of essays by scholars and journalists East and West gives a fascinating and detailed picture of the threat every kind of religious fundamentalism poses to women's human rights. But it does more -- it offers fresh ways of understanding the appeal of fundamentalism to men and women both. We think of fundamentalism as ancient -- actually it is a modern response to rapid and uneven social change, including modern roles for women. Karen Amstrong makes this argument in "The Battle for God," but she is mostly interested in theology. I learned more from "Nothing Sacred," because it explicitly describes the worlds from which fundamentalism emerges, the hopes it exploits and the damage it does-- not just in the Muslim world, but in "Christian" America, in Israel, and in India. Wherever religious movements seek to restore a lost and imaginary pristine past, women are the big losers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
The essays seemed expertly chosen to represent a widely divergent set of opinions. With an intro by the extraordinary Pollitt, how could you not get pulled in?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "katenyt" on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
The essays in "Nothing Sacred" are a great antidote to the simplistic mainstream thinking about the "war on terror" [sic]. From Katha Pollitt's fantastic introduction through all of the various essays, I learned a lot about the feminist perspective on religious fundamentalism.
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