From Publishers Weekly
Three years after her controversial proadultery polemic, Against Love
, Kipnis, a professor of media studies at Northwestern University, offers a wide-ranging and equally unorthodox investigation of "the female condition." She examines why women want both power and push-up bras, have fewer orgasms than men, why spouses have a harder time staying connected to each other after the wife quits work to stay home with the kids and why feminists keep focusing on rape, even though rates of female rapes are down while the rape of imprisoned men has escalated. Underlying the failure of feminism to achieve full equality for women, Kipnis says, is women's own ambivalence: they want feminism as well as femininity. Some of Kipnis's avenues of inquiry are well trod—Katha Pollitt, for example, has deconstructed the "opt-out revolution," whose foot soldiers are Ivy League–credentialed moms who trade high-powered careers for full-time motherhood, and Naomi Wolf long ago tackled the cosmetics industry. Countless critics have wondered why feminism was so easily co-opted by a market economy in which everyone works longer hours than they used to. Though not totally fresh, this fluid, sassy volume is guaranteed to electrify media and cocktail party circuits. (Oct. 17)
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At its core, the female psyche vis-a-vis its male counterpart fixates on four things: dirt, sex, envy, and vulnerability. No matter what else goes on in the time-honored battle of the sexes, the essential conflict can eventually find its way back to one of these areas. Distilling such gender issues into a tight discourse on the paradoxical stalemate of tradition versus progress in male-female relations, Kipnis offers a measured declamation on where the women's movement is headed--and where it has veered off course. Equal pay, equal pleasure, equal cleanliness, equal confidence: where gender parity is concerned, incongruities arise "like ingrown hairs after a bad bikini wax," claims Kipnis. Ambivalence abounds while activism idles, and who's to blame? Droll one minute, deadly serious the next, Kipnis is just as apt to point a well-manicured finger at women for social inertia as she is at men. Incisive, engrossing, controversial, and circumspect, Kipnis offers a trenchant examination of the political and personal state of contemporary feminism. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved