Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism

Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism

by Katha Pollitt
     
 

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She writes about sex, children's books, the media, breast implants, the mind of an antiabortionist. She invokes Moby Dick and Gilligan's Island, Lorna Bobbitt and Lysistrata ("the original woman's strike-for-peace-nik"). For more than a decade, in her wonderfully provocative, wittily astute, graceful and gutsy pieces in The Nation, The New Yorker and The New York…  See more details below

Overview

She writes about sex, children's books, the media, breast implants, the mind of an antiabortionist. She invokes Moby Dick and Gilligan's Island, Lorna Bobbitt and Lysistrata ("the original woman's strike-for-peace-nik"). For more than a decade, in her wonderfully provocative, wittily astute, graceful and gutsy pieces in The Nation, The New Yorker and The New York Times, she has taken the strongest positions on the thorniest moral issues and the most controversial events, from date rape to surrogate motherhood, to violence against women, to the Anita Hill hearings, to fetal rights and mothers' "wrongs." She asks "Who's Afraid of Hillary Clinton?," considers the Smurfette Principle and explains why she hates "Family Values." She takes aim at nineteen targets in all. Her pieces delight by their language - the mastery that won a National Book Critics Circle Award for her first book of poems - and her refusal, ever, to be ponderous.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pollitt, a prize-winning poet whose incisive political and social commentary appears in the Nation and other journals, here gathers previously published works that have in common a ``concern for women's entitlement to full human rights.'' She brings a lively wit and considerable erudition to analyzing topics ranging from date rape to media-bashing of Hillary Clinton, and she consistently sees past the ephemeral quality of specific newsmaking events to locate issues of enduring importance. For example, in her 1987 essay about the famous Baby M case, Pollitt focuses not on the characters and morals of Mary Beth Whitehead and William and Elizabeth Stern but on the nature of the transaction between them, ``an inherently unequal relationship involving the sale of a woman's body and a child.'' One wishes only that Pollitt had taken the occasion of book publication to supply the sources of her data or to direct the reader to the salient passages in the works she cites. These, however, are minor lapses in a collection of major interest. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Poet and journalist Pollitt's book is a collection of witty, enlightening, and highly entertaining essays and social commentary on how events concerning women-the Lorena Bobbit case, the Baby M case, and the William Kennedy Smith trial-are portrayed by the media. From prochoice to menopause, "family values" to Hillary Clinton, Pollitt takes her readers on an interesting tour of the milieu in which women are judged in American society: judged for being feminist, judged for wanting to keep their babies even after signing a surrogacy contract, judged for being raped. Although all these essays are about current events as they pertain to women's issues, Pollitt's views will have a wider appeal than to women alone. The title may limit the potential audience, but this book deserves a wide readership because of the humor and intelligence with which Pollitt delivers her views. Recommended for larger public libraries and women's studies collections.-Patricia A. Sarles, FDR H.S. Lib., Brooklyn
Mary Carroll
In 19 essays that share feminist foremother Mary Wollstonecraft's notion of women as "neither heroines nor brutes but reasonable creatures," "Nation" associate editor Pollitt applies probing intelligence and the conviction that women are fully human to media marvels like "Newsweek"'s marriage-survey cover story, the battle over "Baby M," the Palm Beach Rape case, Hillary Clinton, and Lorena Bobbitt; the books of "difference feminists," of menopause mavens (including Greer and Sheehy), and of date-rape scoffer Katie Roiphe; and current cranky controversies ranging from abortion, kids' TV, and affirmative action to "family values," fetal rights, and "checkbook maternity." At her best, Pollitt--whose "Antarctic Traveller" (Knopf, 1982) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry--pushes analysis beyond the narrow, obfuscatory limits of conventional debate: pointing out, for example, in a piece on academia's curriculum battles aptly subtitled "Canon to the Right of Me . . . ," that conservatives, liberals, and radicals share the preposterous assumption that "the purpose of reading is . . . medicinal," and thus "the canon debate is really an argument about what books to cram down the resistant throats of a resentful captive populace of students." With passion and precision, Pollitt hacks through the clichés and sentimental pieties that clutter much contemporary discourse about women and "women's issues" to expose hypocrisy and mindlessness and their real-life causes and consequences
From the Publisher
"Katha Pollitt writes the liveliest, smartest general essays on women's issues today. (They're awfully good on America, too.) Relief — that someone is finally saying it — is one of the many pleasures that Pollitt invariably gives me. Brave. funny, commonsensical, morally right on, she's almost always right." — Susan Sontag

"Katha Pollitt's essays are so brilliant that I had to rub my eves from time to time as I read them. When she finishes with a subject, there really isn't anything more to say — except, 'Thanks, Katha, for clearing that up!'"

— Barbara Ehrenreich

She asks "Who's Afraid of Hillary Clinton?," considers the Smurfette Principle and explains why she hates "Family Values." She takes aim at nineteen targets in all. Her pieces delight by their language — the mastery that won a National Book Critics Circle Award for her first book of poem — and her refusal, ever, to be ponderous.

"A thoughtful and brilliant woman ... These essays are a joy to read." — alice Adams

"It is a great pleasure to have this gathering oF' Katha Pollitt's work. Her intelligence is always relentless, always bracing, while always; maintaining a wonderful lightness. She is the gin-and-Campari of the women's movement." — Mary Gordon

"Lucid, gutsy, funny and just, Katha Pollitt is easily my favorite essayist at work today. I read everything she writes and consider this collection a treasure." — Phyllis Rose

"Katha Pollitt's essays are fine, fierce, well-informed and mind-changing. Anyone would be proud to have her good head and good heart on their side."

— Gloria Steinem

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394570600
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/13/1994
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.96(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.88(d)

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