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The Lipstick Proviso

Karen Lehrman

16 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0385474814 / ISBN 13: 9780385474818
Published by Doubleday, 1997
Used Condition: Used: Good Hardcover
From Ergodebooks (RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Lipstick Proviso

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Used: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Many women today prepare for a big meeting by reading a stack of folders and applying lipstick.  They order their male colleagues around, then wait for those same men to help them on with their coats.  They have higher-status jobs than some of the men they date, yet they never call men socially or ask them out.

What's going on?  Why such seemingly contradictory behaviors?  Have women completely failed feminism--or has feminism failed them?

In The Lipstick Proviso, Karen Lehrman--hailed by the New York Times as the "sharpest" of the new feminist thinkers--shows that women today are failing neither feminism nor themselves.  Rather, they've entered a new stage of feminism, one in which the personal is not political, differences between the sexes need to be respected, and courtship, chivalry, and the nuclear family don't have to be jettisoned just because they existed before the sixties.

Thirty years after the women's movement liberated women from narrowly defined roles, Lehrman argues, we are finally beginning to see which traditionally feminine behaviors are more deeply rooted in biology and which are more heavily influenced by culture.  Lehrman asserts that the result--whatever it is--will not undermine feminism as long as women still retain equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities.  Dispensing with the outdated notion of sisterhood, Lehrman offers women a "lipstick proviso": women don't have to sacrifice their complex individuality in order to be equal.

As the first book to move beyond a critique of orthodox feminism, The Lipstick Proviso  sets a radically new course for the future of the women's movement.  While there's still much political work to be done, Lehrman argues that women should now focus on the personal sides of their lives.  Women can't rightly be called autonomous if they stay with abusive or even emotionally challenged lovers; say "yes" to sex when they really mean "no";  overeat or undereat to hide their sexuality.

With wit and grace, Karen Lehrman offers in The Lipstick Proviso a way to complete the feminist revolution, and clearly establishes herself as the definitive voice of the next generation of feminism.

Review:

In 1997, all but the most unenlightened will grant that women should be considered equal to men, but the big question--What does "equal" mean?--still wants for an answer. According to Karen Lehrman, feminism's spirit of gender equity should be subject to a proviso, namely that "women don't have to sacrifice their individuality, or even their femininity--whatever that means to each of them--in order to be equal." The payoff is that "we no longer have to deny or fear differences between the sexes--even if those differences turn out to be firmly rooted in biology." So, she argues, it's okay if a woman wants to eschew assertiveness in her personal life, prefers take-charge guys as mates, and yes, (pace Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth) wears short skirts and lipstick. Or not. It's all up to her. There is no single personal or political agenda that makes you a "sister." Lehrman contrasts this stance to what she sees as the victim-speak, group-think positions of such feminist icons as Wolf, Andrea Dworkin, and Susan Faludi. Feminism, says Lehrman, shouldn't mean orthodoxy; it should mean freedom.

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