WOMEN AND THE POLITICS OF CLASS

Johanna Brenner, Author WOMEN AND THE POLITICS OF CLASS

Brenner's book includes 10 previously published articles on women and leftist ideology, followed by a concluding essay newly written for this volume. Unfortunately, nothing here is particularly fresh, from the Marxist rhetoric to the rigid judgments on contemporary life. Coordinator of women's studies at Portland State University, Brenner maintains that although second-wave feminism has succeeded in increasing individual women's opportunities and political and economic clout, those who have benefited are middle-class and wealthy women, leaving most women, especially working-class and poor women, out of the picture. Yet the strength of her argument gets mired in her polemical language. Must she refer to "women's lower costs of reproduction" when she means to say that women eat less than men? On the other hand, some of the obscure language could be tactical: feminists who would be annoyed that Brenner opposes the "comparable worth" struggle (equal pay for similar work) will be merely confused when told that it reinforces "the necessity and validity of meritocratic hierarchy." But it's when Brenner hits certain buzzwords, like "family" or "work," that she may alienate more readers. The Working Families Party in New York is often considered a progressive grassroots organization, but Brenner brands it conservative: "it reinforces the ideal of the family/household as the privileged site of economic, emotional, social support and care." Like the socialists of a century ago, Brenner still believes in the collective raising of children and the development of social life around the workplace. This volume will be purchased by the faithful, but the heavy-handedness and density of Brenner's writing may prevent even them from reading it. (Mar. 9)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 09/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 330 pages - 978-1-58367-009-5
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