Catfight: Women and Competion

Catfight: Women and Competion

by Leora Tanenbaum
     
 

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Catfight: Women and Competition is Leora Tanenbaum's dissection of the gender war waged among women. Tanenbaum meticulously analyzes the roots of destructive competitiveness among women, asserting that "catfights" thrive because, despite women's many gains, American women are conditioned to regard each other as adversaries rather than allies. She investigates

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Overview

Catfight: Women and Competition is Leora Tanenbaum's dissection of the gender war waged among women. Tanenbaum meticulously analyzes the roots of destructive competitiveness among women, asserting that "catfights" thrive because, despite women's many gains, American women are conditioned to regard each other as adversaries rather than allies. She investigates the arenas-from diets to dating, from the boardroom to the delivery room- in which American women are apt to compare their lives with the lives of others in a tacit contest over who is the "better" woman, a contest in which no one wins.
Throughout Catfight, Leora Tanenbaum puts her own life experiences under the lens of scrutiny. As a writer, a friend, a mother, a wife, and a daughter, she analyzes her own insecurities and background and how these influence her relations with other women. With the sociologist's perspective of a Barbara Ehrenreich and the feminist outrage of a Gloria Steinem, Tanenbaum demythologizes the age-old "catfight."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tanenbaum's first book (Slut!) examined how social competition causes some female teenagers to attack others for real or imagined sexual behavior. In this follow-up, she branches out, taking on adult women and their struggles to look prettier, land better boyfriends or husbands, be more popular with co-workers and be considered better mothers than other women, sisterhood be damned. Although Tanenbaum provides the latest in academic research, she also includes an entertaining mix of examples from pop culture, newspaper and magazine articles and original fieldwork. She makes the subject personal, sharing her own frustrations with breast feeding, office gossip and living with a body that doesn't match contemporary beauty norms. Although many women feel no choice but to endure constant pressure and self-doubt, Tanenbaum counters that competition is a learned behavior, not human nature, and the consequences are rarely worth the meager rewards. "We can see that competition between women serves only the status quo," she laments. "And the status quo keeps us from gaining more power over our lives, our work, and our relationships." The closing chapter highlights the potential for women to collaboratively strive for success in the arenas of political activism and team athletics, but even there, Tanenbaum says, as in the business world, women must face the prospect of being judged "unfeminine" if they show too aggressive a desire to win. The book's accessible approach to the contradictions between feminist rhetoric and women's real experiences, especially in the still-controversial realm of working mothers, is sure to attract even more attention for this fast-rising social critic. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Why are women vicious to one another? Social critic Tanenbaum, author of Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, traces competitiveness among women to socially mandated dilemmas related to beauty culture (transformative or oppressive?), dating and marriage (marry and settle or remain independently-and frustratedly-single?), work life (be ambitious or be "feminine"?), and motherhood (return to work or stay at home?). While cooperation and respect could ease the difficult decisions, Tanenbaum finds that women tend toward judgment and competitiveness to validate their choices and secure position, possession, or the moral upper hand. Even historical and contemporary exemplars of cooperation-the suffrage movement and women's sports-are fraught with internal struggle and ambivalence. Tanenbaum's inquiry, which focuses (though not exclusively) on young white American women of means, blends well-documented research, interviews, and personal reflection in a lively, accessible style. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries. (Index not seen.)-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington P.L., OH

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583225202
Publisher:
Seven Stories Press
Publication date:
09/28/2002
Pages:
335
Sales rank:
1,021,418
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

LEORA TANENBAUM writes about women and girls and the unique problems they face. She is the author of Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, Catfight: Rivalries Among Women—From Diets to Dating, From the Boardroom to the Delivery Room, Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them, and Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality. She lives in New York City.

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