Why Feminism?: Gender, Psychology, Politics

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9780745623467: Why Feminism?: Gender, Psychology, Politics
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Why Feminism? aeoA comprehensive and lively exploration of feminism in the contemporary world. aeo Examines the shifts in feminist thinking from the emergence of womana s Liberation through to the present day. aeo Provides a vigorous defence of feminism but criticizes some of more a fashionablea accounts of gender relations. Full description

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From the beginning of the Women's Liberation Movement in the 1960s there has been an acute tension in feminist theory; feminists have been arguing simultaneously for the abolition of gender difference and for the unique nature of women; for social equality and a better understanding of subjectivity. In Why Feminism? Segal traces an intellectual history of the movement and its internal conflicts--with a view to showing why, despite its many apparent failures, feminism remains crucially significant and challenging.

In pursuit of this thesis Segal examines in turn the intellectual origins of feminism and its move into the academy; competing theories of gender; the dangers of the new biologism and the current fixation with genetics; debates about memory and the psyche; the deficiencies of psychology; the emerging focus on masculinity; and--last but not least--the fraught relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis.

Segal is well equipped for her complicated task. First of all she is extraordinarily well read--it's not just that she has read everything, she has thought about it as well! She is a socialist feminist at heart but writes with respect and generosity about ideas with which she does not agree (except for the Genome Map, which she treats with a forceful disdain). Even in these muddy waters, and without finding many certain answers, she writes with great clarity and a sense of political awareness--pure theory at least trying to be of service to social and political transformation.

None of which makes this an easy read. It can't be. This is a history of ideas where both the history and the ideas themselves are extremely complex, nuanced, uncertain (the final chapter is titled "Only Contradictions On Offer"). But if you seriously want to know (seriously enough to put some work in) what feminist theory has been and is now thinking about and why this might matter, it would be hard to think of a better place to go. --Sarah Maitland

Review:

Why Feminism? remakes the case for a dynamic feminism that rejects pessimism and becomes once again a "movement of transformation", able to liberate both sexes from the tyrannies of labour, of fear and, of course, gender. She looks at younger women struggling to Have It All, and the fears daily expressed for and about men and boys, and believes she just might have a few suggestions. It′s a grim comment on the times that so few powerful people want to know.′ The Guardian

′Her thesis is immediately engaging in its refusal to apply itself to the red herrings: Is feminism still relevant? Are men in crisis? Is feminism dead? Who cares? ... We′ve become used to texts that are saturated with easy–access pop–cultural reference points. But Segal is good at asking the right questions of the right people ... it′s liberating to read a book that makes no apology for dignifying the Women Question with a serious academic inquiry.′ The Guardian

′Lynne Segal is one of the most capacious readers of feminism and sexuality studies I have ever encountered. Rooted in a socialist feminism and open to new theory, she brings forward the best of the former tradition and sets it into a dynamic and provocative dialogue with contemporary scholarship and activism, including psychoanalysis in both its social and clinical dimensions. Her writing is marvellously clear, to the point, and trenchant. And she brings us all into a critical conversation that we sometimes did not know we could have. The passion, intelligence, and intellectual candour of this book are exemplary.′ Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley

′Lynne Segal brings her unique capacity for clarity and wit, along with her courage of the intellect, to bear on the key paradox faced by feminists: how to hold on to what being a woman means, while contesting the cultural and social meanings given to ′femininity′. This is a book which travels between disciplines with remarkable erudition, providing concise and intelligent accounts of the context of debates in women′s studies, queer theory, sociobiology, psychoanalysis and psychology. It is as illuminating on genetics as it is on gender.′ Sheila Rowbotham, University Research Fellow in Sociology, Manchester University


′In this provocative history of the changing face and fortunes of feminism since the 1970s, Lynne Segal gives us a vivid account both of feminist debate and its increasingly conservative context. Rejecting the dualistic thinking which pits activism against theory, Segal argues persuasively both for the reinvigoration of feminism′s political will and its continuing exploration of subjectivity and difference.′ Cora Kaplan, University of Southampton

′An ambitious and timely assessment of the shifts in feminist thinking over the last half century, taking in queer theory, post–structuralism, and psychotherapy. She rocks.′ Libby Brooks, The Guardian

′She writes in an engaging and accessible manner, and I enjoyed reading this book.′ The Psychologist

′In a strong argument for socialist feminism, Lynne Segal engages with an impressive breadth of literature and analyses inter– and intradisciplinary debates encompassing biology, sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis, as well as gender, feminist and queer theory ... Her wide–ranging, clear and incisive accounts of theoretical developments are always to be welcomed and provide an indispensable guide to diverse strands of feminist thought.′ Journal of European Area Studies

′How very useful her book will be to those who want to learn about the debates as they have developed and continue. It is extraordinarily knowledgeable.′ Radical Philosophy

′It provides an excellent introduction (and more) to what are arguably the most important debates and practices relating to gender across, within and between the global, national, local, interpersonal and intraperson ′levels′ at the present time.′ Feminist Theory

′Segal′s book provides an engaging discussion of the historical and contemporary issues for feminist activism and for general feminist scholarship.′ Feminism & Psychology

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780745623474: Why Feminism?: Gender, Psychology, Politics

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ISBN 10:  0745623476 ISBN 13:  9780745623474
Publisher: Polity, 1999
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9780231119658: Why Feminism?: Gender, Psychology, Politics (Gender and Culture Series)

Columb..., 2000
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9780231119641: Why Feminism?: Gender, Psychology, Politics (Culture & Gender)

Columb..., 2000
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