Women want change: egalitarian sexual relationships, families, and workplaces. But women, like men, also fear change—to achieve it, both men and women will sacrifice what are now thought of as prerogatives. In intimate interviews with eighty women, Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Judith Levine grapples with the negative stereotypes of men that, in “naming the enemy”—Mama’s Boy, Bumbler, Betrayer, Seducer, Brute, Prick, Killer, and others—both militate for change and self-protectively maintain the status quo. My Enemy, My Love makes clear that gender roles, the social definitions of masculinity and femininity, the culture’s assignment of certain exclusive traits to each biological sex, have imprisoned us on either side of a divide. She writes: “Gender allows a person citizenship in only one country.” This timely investigation of man-hating, misogyny, ambivalence, and accommodation ends with the hope that “When better-than and worse-than give way to different-from, and different-from ceases to be a signal for enmity, categorical hatreds will lose their utility, and we will be disarmed.”
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Here, a contributing editor to New York Woman convincingly argues that some degree of man-hating (``misandry'') is practically universal among American women today. For evidence of man-hating, Levine draws on 80 in-depth interviews with women of various social classes, ethnic backgrounds, occupations, and sexual orientations. Nearly all women, she finds, perceive men as fitting one or more stereotypes: either that of needy ``Infant,'' exploitative ``Betrayer,'' or testosterone-poisoned ``Beast.'' Levine goes on to describe the genesis of such attitudes in women's first relationships with their fathers, and represents the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's as the first time that women recognized the commonality of these feelings and claimed the right to express them. Her discussion concludes with portraits of individual women and the strategies they have found for dealing with their hatred or ambivalence: total avoidance of men; intimacy marred by strife; rage and disappointment; utter capitulation. In only one couple does Levine find an egalitarianism that exemplifies her own vision of a future in which gender will be seen simply as interesting difference, not superiority or inferiority, and in which the work, concerns, and privileges of both sexes will be shared equally. Thoughtful and balanced, despite its volatile subject, and deserving a place on the same postfeminist shelf as Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand, Myriam Miedzian's Boys Will Be Boys, or Susan Faludi's Backlash. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
This post-feminist treatise discusses gender stereotypes and the reasons why man-hating exists in our culture. According to Levine, women hate their lovers, fathers, and even sons--although not without ambivalence. Ambivalence is the crux of the underlying relationship problem. Levine illustrates her salient points by drawing information from a variety of current sources: television programs, radio, popular magazine articles, and art. Her sure-to-be-controversial work addresses the problems of men as defined by the women around them. The final third of the book examines specific women and their conflicts. The book ends with a section on negotiation. Recommended for academic collections in women's studies.
- Lisa Wise, Steele Memorial Lib., Elmira, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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