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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars smart, smart, smart, May 2, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965 (Hardcover)
Motherhood in Black and White does what few books on liberalism dare to do-- talk about policy, politics, and psychology as having gendered underpinnings and racial consequences. Feldstein's story is about the good guys, the racial liberals of the age between the New Deal and the Great Society, who optimistically conceive of the state as having a necessary role to play in the eradication of racism and poverty in the US. Yet, even with these laudatory goals, these white hats put into play conservative notions of womanhood to propel civil rights activism and anti-poverty programs forward. Mothers, black and white, needed-- no, were relentlessly compelled by popular culture, psychological experts and political commentators-- to raise healthy, manly, and restrained sons who would grow up to become good citizens, able to be compassionate, assertive, and democratic. Poverty and racism were the consequence of a job poorly done. The tight rope women walked-- be affectionate, but not smothering, be strong but not castrating-- is deftly explored by Feldstein through a range of sources, including Hollywood film, New Deal legislation and The Nation, as well as through characters like Mammy Till Bradley and Betty Friedan. This is not another account of mom- bashing. Masterful, indeed.
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