- Paperback: 255 pages
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee (February 15, 1983)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399506713
- ISBN-13: 978-0399506710
- Package Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Right Wing Women Paperback – February 15, 1983
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Top customer reviews
This work is very important in understanding the experience and motivation of women like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Anne Coulter, and other right wing women who attack feminism even while they are the beneficiaries of its work. Unfortunately, I think this book is going to become even more relevant in the coming years, and so I recommend it to all women -- particularly Republican/conservative women -- and encourage its reading with a subjective introspective view.
She wrote in the “Acknowledgements” section of this 1983 book, “This book owes its existence to Gloria Steinem, whose idea it was to expand an earlier essay, ‘Safety, Shelter, Rules, Form, Love: The Promise of the Ultra-Right’ [Ms., June 1979] into a book. I thank Gloria not only for the idea but also for her insistence on its importance.”
She observes in the first chapter, “No one can bear to live a meaningless life. Women fight for meaning just as women fight for survival: by attaching themselves to men and the values honored by men. By committing themselves to male values, women seek to acquire value. By advocating male meaning, women seek to acquire meaning. Subservient to make will, women believe that subservience itself is the meaning of a female life. In this way, women, whatever they suffer, do not suffer the anguish of a conscious recognition that, because they are women, they have been robbed of volition and choice, without which life can have no meaning.” (Pg. 21)
She comments on Ruth Carter Stapleton: “A brilliant woman has found a socially acceptable way to use her intellect and compassion in the public domain---the dream of many women. Though fundamentalist male ministers have called her a witch, in typical female fashion Stapleton disclaims responsibility for her own inventiveness and credits the Holy Spirit, clearly male, thus soothing the savage misogyny of those who cannot bear for any woman to be both seen and heard.” (Pg. 25)
Of Phyllis Schlafly, she observes, “Phyllis Schlafly, the Right’s not-born-again philosopher of the absurd… seems possessed by Machiavelli, not Jesus. It appears that she wants to be The Prince. She might be viewed as that rare woman of any ideological persuasion who really does see herself as one of the boys, even as she claims to be one of the girls…. [She] does not acknowledge experiencing any of the difficulties that tear women apart…” (Pg. 29)
She suggests, “The tragedy is that women so committed to survival cannot recognize that they are committing suicide. The danger is that self-sacrificing women are perfect foot soldiers who obey orders, no matter how criminal those orders are. The hope is that these women, upset by internal conflicts that cannot be stilled by manipulation, challenged by the clarifying drama of public confrontation and dialogue, will be forced to articulate the realities of their own experiences as women subject to the will of men.” (Pg. 35)
She points out, “right-wing women are correct when they say that they are worth more in the home than outside it. In the home their value is recognized and in the workplace it is not…. The woman is generally ‘given’ more than she herself cold earn at a job. In the marketplace, women are exploited as cheap labor… Women are paid too little. And right-wing women know it.” (Pg. 66)
She comments, “Norman Mailer remarked during the sixties that the problem with the sexual revolution was that it had gotten into the hands of the wrong people. He was right. It was in the hands of men.” (Pg. 88)
She argues that “Many women who hate Schlafly’s politics would agree that women have a special moral responsibility ‘to keep America good.’ They have a different political program of good in mind and a different conception of women’s rights, but their conception of a biologically determined morality in which women are better than men is not different. Antifeminism allows for this sentimentality, encourages and exploits this self-indulgence.” (Pg. 208)
She summarizes, “Women intend to save themselves when sacrificing SOME women, but only the freedom of all women protects any woman. This is practical and true because of the nature of sex oppression. Men, who use power against women in sex exploitation, know that it is practical and true; which is why it is a fundamental strategy of antifeminism to encourage the sacrifice of SOME women by ALL women.” (Pg. 231)
It should be remembered that Dworkin (as well as Catherine MacKinnon) worked with a number of “right-wing” groups and individuals in attempting to get anti-porn legislation passed during the 1980s; so she is not unwilling to work with “right-wing women.” This book is less powerfully “passionate” than much of Dworkin’s other writing (e.g., ‘Our Blood’), but it is still of great interest to political progressives/liberals, as well as feminists.
She appears to dissect a prevailing, therefore nearly "invisible" male ideology imposed by physical force on women and thereafter enforced by most institutions at every turn.
Memes, in the main, work at the Pavlovian level. But where and when questioned, challenged, and critiqued by critical thinkers or those who *suffer* under this (or any) arbitrary "thought regime," the coercive force of institutions and those who benefit from its rules, immediately rise to sanction the "heretic."
Other thinkers in recent times from Lawrence Dennis to Alice Miller to Noam Chomsky address the near-invisible--because culturally widespread (and thus, "normal")--covert coerciveness that emanates from our culture & its institutions and its tragic effects on individuals. In Dworkin's case, women, as a monolithic gender.
I have forwarded a review of this book to my daughter. I hope to God she reads it.
Dworkin's thoughtful book will be with us for decades to come.