The Deep Divide: Why American Women Resist Equality

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Today, a self-destructive chasm - a deep divide - exists between what mainstream American women believe and how they act on those beliefs; between what they say and what they do. Because of this gap, what women say they want - equal pay, equality in relationships, and limitless opportunity - is not what they have achieved, and this cripples their present lives and their future possibilities. Yet no malevolent person or conspiracy holds women back from the equality that is rightfully, legally theirs. No ...
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Overview

Today, a self-destructive chasm - a deep divide - exists between what mainstream American women believe and how they act on those beliefs; between what they say and what they do. Because of this gap, what women say they want - equal pay, equality in relationships, and limitless opportunity - is not what they have achieved, and this cripples their present lives and their future possibilities. Yet no malevolent person or conspiracy holds women back from the equality that is rightfully, legally theirs. No imprisoning force locks them into second-class citizenship. Women voluntarily remain outside the establishment's walls, unwilling to open the gates and walk in. For at the same time that they insist on equal opportunity and equal reward, they vote against women candidates who could bring about these goals, and disavow with a vengeance the front-line forces fighting in their name: feminism and the women's movement. In fact, only one out of every four women characterizes herself as "feminist" while, paradoxically, nine out of ten agree with feminism's goal of equality. And although more than half of all voters in the United States are women, unlike other groups outside the power structure, women do not use their franchise as a tool for social change. The result: political scientists estimate that hundreds of years must pass before men and women share power and responsibility equally in America. What's happening here? What internal forces are behind the deep divide holding women back from what they want to achieve? These are the questions that Sherrye Henry probes with the help of eleven focus groups, assembled specifically for this book, and a nation wide poll of six hundred women. In The Deep Divide, Henry not only analyzes what has produced this paralyzing dilemma but offers practical solutions for moving beyond it toward the goal of equality of opportunity women want and deserve.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Feminism, for the majority of American women, has become a bad word, and this is one of the most nagging concerns of the contemporary feminist movement, maintains Henry. Particularly perplexing is the fact that many of those who say they reject feminism actually support most of its goals, indicating that the movement's image causes large numbers of women to misperceive its purposes. Henry, a former radio interviewer and congressional candidate in New York who ran unsuccessfully on a feminist platform, here offers a how-to manual for feminist spin doctors who seek to make their platform more attractive to American women. The book is based on a study in which Henry and her colleagues attempted to tap into the ``mainstream'' female psyche through both phone surveys and in-depth interviews with a disparate collection of focus groups made up of self-professed nonfeminists. The study showed that while feminists and nonfeminists may have different notions about ideal gender roles, they tend to share common ground on certain ``women's issues,'' such as child care, equal pay and sexual harassment. Henry asserts that the most productive way to address these issues is to elect more women to office. She urges female politicos to make both their image and their message palatable to nonfeminist women, whose beliefs and interests she charts through a barrage of sometimes overwhelming and often confusing statistics. More informative and engaging are the quotes from the women interviewed for the study. Henry listens attentively, and her advice on how to reach nonfeminist women is smart and timely, while her ``womanpower'' rhetoric is inspiring. (June)
Library Journal
After an unsuccessful campaign for state senate in which she and other female candidates were not supported by women voters, Henry decided to find out why. A sample of women were chosen and asked their opinions on feminism and what their own needs and priorities were. Henry found hostility and dissatisfaction with the feminist movement; most ``mainstream'' women interviewed did not want to be identified as feminists. Henry concludes that the leaders of the movement need to reevaluate some of their priorities and tactics. This book provides a basis for discussing the feminist agenda by calling into question some of the movement's basic assumptions. Recommended for all women's studies, high school, and undergraduate collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/94.]-Sharon Firestone, Ross-Blakley Law Lib., Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Henry thinks American women do not understand equality. A broadcast joumalist for many years, she conceived this book after running for the state legislature on a strong women's rights platform and losing. Wanting to know why more women didn't support her, she devised a study and conducted a series of nationwide focus groups to answer her questions. She found a huge chasm between what women say they want and what they have--a gap that crosses racial, economic, and age lines. She believes the only way to close this gap is for women to develop political agendas that address their needs, vote for female candidates, and make the personal political. Based on research into culture, belief systems, and the nature of power as well as on her study, her book is a call to arms for average American women. Presenting solid suggestions for women to organize politically to get what they want, she wakes women up to the true nature of equality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780025510159
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 6/20/1994
  • Pages: 608

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