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Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies Paperback – October, 1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two academics offer an unsparing account of the problems within women's studies programs.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Dismayed by what they claim are the dogmatic methods inherent in many women's studies programs, Patai and Koertge, two feminist academics, urgently call for introspection and reform. Recounting the experiences of colleagues who have grown alienated and disenchanted with the movement, the authors convincingly demonstrate that on many campuses feminist scholarship is being subverted by indoctrination, separatism, political agendas, and a militant intolerance for opposing viewpoints. The authors call for a new "humanistic feminism" that promotes the liberal principle of tolerance and inquiry. This study should alert concerned women to the dangers of ideological chauvinism and serve as a guide for the realignment of women's programs. Essential reading for anyone involved in women's studies.
Carol McAllister, Coll. of William & Mary Lib., Williamsburg, Va.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465098274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465098279
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,989,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Professing Feminism, Cautionary Tales From the Strange World of Women's Studies; is without doubt one of the most honest and forthright evaluations of the "discipline" Women's Studies ever written. Like "Who Stole Feminism" by Christina Hoff Sommers, it is a rather chilling tale of a noble endeavor transformed in to a totalitarian nightmare of ideological thought policing.
It is not written not by opponents of feminism but rather by strong and committed supporters, who are dismayed at the ever increasing radicalization and identity chauvinism of feminist activists in the Academy. Using "feminist" techniques of investigation (eg. experiential sharing ), as well as juxtaposition against the methodology of more conventional academic disciplines, this book exposes some of the serious and possibly crippling shortcomings of what "Women's Studies" has become.
The two female authors come from different perspectives and lifestyles, and yet found the courage to face facts about the ideological intolerance and thought policing increasingly common to this field. Their approach was to try and help fix what was wrong, rather than deliver negative information into the hands of the (ever growing) enemies of radical feminism. Unfortunately, their book has been mainly shunned by the very institutions and individuals it sought to reach, and in some cases stolen from libraries and destroyed as heresy.
Given the increasing polarization of "Women's Studies" from the rest of mainstream academia, and the burn down the meeting house approach of ever more radical activists, who would see the whole academy converted to their ideology -- or else, it is no surprise this book was so quickly suppressed.
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Format: Hardcover
The 1960s seemed like a good decade. The Vietnam war gave at least those of us of "the affluent society" something to fight against; many people, black and white, fought for the successes of the civil rights movement; "women's lib," which had its conspicuous beginnings in earlier centuries, gained strength with women's education and consciousness of inequities.
But something went wrong. The later 20th century reinterpretation of the benefits of the 60s contradicted the gains. Persons once sought equality. Now we find identity politics in which the allegedly downtrodden--often the more privileged segments of oppressed (sometimes really oppressed and sometimes self-designated as such) classes--depend on their status as victims to claim a new identity distinct--segregated--from AND morally superior to the rest of us. This book is an analysis of one sample of that segregation.
As earlier reviews have noted, the authors are not right-wing, "religious right," or other activists from whom one would expect a refutation of anything feminist. On the contrary, they are feminists themselves, and scholars. (Dr. Koertge has edited at least two other books in my libary on dimensions of critical thinking, of which she is an advocate. Such thinking is a rarity among the feminists the authors interviewed to write the book). They interviewed women, many of whom had enough faith in their movement to start women's studies programs. Yet some even of those pioneers left that movement quite disillusioned. After all the intellectual effort that went into creating such programs, various lesbian organizations claimed that a woman could not be feminist "enough" unless also lesbian, i.e.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a quite devastating criticism of academic feminism, written by well documented and articulate insiders who seem familiar with the philosophy, theory and practice of academic feminism. The criticism hits on all these levels. If we are to take the book at face value, academic feminism is an intellectual disaster comparable maybe with Stalinism, Scientology or the Inquisition: its method is anti-intellectual, critical thinking is discouraged, dissenters are ostracized. No redeeming qualities are found to mitigate its defects. The whole enterprise is deemed a failure and an embarrassment to its noble origins. Ultimately, feminism as taught and practiced today is presented as a danger to civilized society.
The authors are convincing and the various points are illustrated with interesting anecdotes. Particularly funny was the story of a women's studies lesbian professor announcing the heterosexual students that, if the course works as supposed, all students will be lesbians by the end of the term. One student, a married women with children, was persecuted by the professor by being given substantial extra assignments because she was deemed to be 'stubborn' regarding her (hetero)sexuality.
My qualm is a methodological one. The authors start by saying that they will apply "feminist methodology" in their study. Only later in the book it is explained that feminist methodology prefers anecdotes and testimonials ('connected thinking', which is good) to the "patriarchal" statistics ('compartimentalized thinking' which is bad). But the context of their description of this methodolgy is, again, one of scathing, devastating criticism. Feminist methodology is exposed as pseudo-intellectual.
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