A Princeton graduate student takes on the intolerance of the modern women's movement and gives an unflinching view of sexual politics on campus today
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When an excerpt from this book appeared in The New York Times Magazine in 1993, it caused a furor out of all proportion to Katie Roiphe's rather commonsense observations: the frequency of "date rape," she claims, has been much exaggerated; portraying any unwanted lewd behavior as "sexual harassment" cheapens more serious instances of harassment; and portraying all women as potential victims and all men as potential predators strikes at the fundamental achievements of feminism. This is an impassioned plea for reason in matters of campus sexuality.From Kirkus Reviews:
A gifted young Princeton University graduate student, daughter of novelist Anne Roiphe, defies current campus-based feminist assumptions, questioning the phenomena of date rape, hate speech, ``Take Back the Night'' marches, and the basis for the popularity of feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon (see above). At the heart of Roiphe's critique is a sense of betrayed promise: Growing up, she believed that feminism is ``something like a train you could catch and ride to someplace better''--a tool for freedom and not simply a matter of ``Take Back the Night marches and sexual harassment peer-counseling groups,'' of ``being angry about men,'' and of ``arguments and assertions that could not be made'' because they had been judged politically incorrect by feminists. (``You could not say that Alice Walker was a bad writer,'' for example, Roiphe says.) Drawing in detail on her own undergraduate academic and social experiences at Harvard, she argues persuasively that a sort of feminist orthodoxy accompanied by mass hysteria has sprung up on campus, in which incidents of date rape have been hallucinated or fabricated, common language has become grotesquely politicized, and the concept of ``sexual harassment'' has grown to be a bloated form of self-pity. In an especially interesting chapter on the lectures of Catharine MacKinnon, Roiphe tries to break through what she calls ``a closed belief system that is closer to religion than law''--failing to take into account, however, that the current beliefs that inform legal rulings are exactly what MacKinnon is aiming to change. Roiphe's perspective is limited but highly intelligent; and her most telling point is a well-documented dislike of a tendency in feminist rhetoric to place women back in the role of naive victim-- a role her mother's generation worked hard to overcome. A brilliant young contrarian voice, ... la Mary McCarthy. (First serial to The New York Times Magazine) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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