Jessie Bernard: The Making of a Feminist

Robert C. Bannister, Author Rutgers University Press $38 (276p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1614-1
Sociologist Jessie Bernard joined the feminist movement in 1970 at the age of 67. Over the next two decades, her eclectic, mainstream feminist writings ( The Future of Marriage , etc.) got a mixed reception. Of greater interest than her scholarship is the personal story of her conversion to feminism, and in this searching, richly satisfying biography Swarthmore history professor Bannister charts the unlikely trajectory of a remarkable woman. Minneapolis-born Jessie Ravitch married her sociology professor, Luther Lee Bernard, who was twice her age, then went on to teach at Penn State and Princeton. Denying her Jewish heritage, she accommodated her controlling husband, portrayed here as an anti-Semitic bully who had an endless string of affairs. Through motherhood--and single parenthood, after Luther's death in 1951--she embarked on a rediscovery of her emotional, feminine self. Later she embraced her Jewish roots. Though she has not spoken out in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, her feminist concerns discussed here--the role of gender in shaping the agenda of the social sciences, the ``feminine mystique,'' inequalities in marriage--are certainly pertinent. Photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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Paperback - 300 pages - 978-0-8135-1615-8
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