cover image A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality

A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality

Wendy Kaminer. Addison Wesley Publishing Company, $20.33 (250pp) ISBN 978-0-201-09234-9

Unlike egalitarian feminists who demand full economic equality, ``protectionist feminists,'' those who appeal for special maternity benefits and child-care laws, would settle for less, according to Kaminer, a jounalist and lawyer who teaches writing at Tufts. She believes such preferential treatment traps women in a cycle of institutionalized discrimination. A self-described egalitarian feminist, she demolishes the stereotype of the ``selfish'' woman who pursues a career for self-fulfillment and expects sacrifices in marriage to be mutual. Protectionist feminists, argues Kaminer, view women not as autonomous, self-reliant individuals but as ``mothers first,'' a view said to be rooted in the image of the traditional hierarchical family. She advocates employer-sponsored childcare, parental leave programs and greater male participation in family life. With compelling scholarship, her analysis ranges over such issues as abortion, divorce, child custody, surrogacy and antipornography legislation. (May)