The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order

Rene Denfeld, Author
Rene Denfeld, Author Warner Books $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-446-51752-2
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1995
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-446-67239-9
Hardcover - 211 pages - 978-1-935170-58-7
Open Ebook - 978-0-446-56523-3
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Distressed that women of her generation tend to dissociate themselves from the feminist movement, 27-year-old Denfeld asserts that older feminists themselves are to blame for this state of affairs. By adopting what she calls repressive sexual politics and a victim mentality that harken back to Victorian notions of femininity, today's feminist leaders, argues Denfeld, alienate younger women who perceive themselves to be more liberated and more empowered than current feminist dogma allows. Denfeld may have a point about the generation gap she identifies, but her tone is so unremittingly spiteful that it's hard to believe her claim that she wants to rescue the movement through constructive critique. Her analysis of the work of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin-her two chief bogeywomen-is grossly reductive, and her ``Victorian'' analogy is clumsily handled and largely irrelevant. If Denfeld is right that feminism is in a state of crisis, her carping is unlikely to improve the movement's health. Author tour. (Mar.)
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