What Are We Fighting For?

Joanna Russ, Author
Joanna Russ, Author St. Martin's Press $27.95 (476p) ISBN 978-0-312-15198-0
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998
Release date: 03/01/1998
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A radical, socialist, lesbian, handicapped, Jewish feminist, Russ (To Write Like a Woman) is well acquainted with marginality and the accompanying stigmatization and oppression. Much space is given in this sprawling piece of feminist discourse to the interconnected wrongs of accepting women's psychology as ""special"" or ""natural""; of Freudian analysis; of family values associated with heterosexual marriage; and of the scapegoating and silencing of lesbians. Russ's most extensive arguments, however, are founded on the socialist concepts that capitalism exploits all but a very select few and that solving the problems of one marginalized group will only worsen the oppression of other groups. Members of such diverse (but often overlapping) groups as feminists, blacks, socialists and homosexuals must therefore communicate and do coalition work if positive changes are ever to be achieved, she suggests. Racism within the white feminist movement is particularly well drawn, and the analysis on occasion can be insightful and subversively witty--but the book is exasperatingly disorganized in its overall structure, and the dizzying array of asides and afterthoughts ultimately mirrors rather than clarifies the complexity of the subject at hand. Russ relies heavily on a vast number of outdated sources--only three entries in the bibliography date from the '90s--leaving readers to assess for themselves the timeliness of a work which purports to be a beacon toward the future of radical political action. (Aug.)
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