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The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism

Overview

When Katie Roiphe arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1986, she found that the feminism she had been raised to believe in had been radically transformed. The women's movement, which had once signaled such strength and courage, now seemed lodged in a foundation of weakness and fear. At Harvard, and later as a graduate student at Princeton, Roiphe saw a thoroughly new phenomenon taking shape on campus: the emergence of a culture captivated by victimization, and of a new bedroom politics in the university, cloaked in ...

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Overview

When Katie Roiphe arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1986, she found that the feminism she had been raised to believe in had been radically transformed. The women's movement, which had once signaled such strength and courage, now seemed lodged in a foundation of weakness and fear. At Harvard, and later as a graduate student at Princeton, Roiphe saw a thoroughly new phenomenon taking shape on campus: the emergence of a culture captivated by victimization, and of a new bedroom politics in the university, cloaked in outdated assumptions about the way men and women experience sex. Men were the silencers and women the silenced, and if anyone thought differently no one was saying so. Twenty-four-year-old Katie Roiphe is the first of her generation to speak out publicly against the intolerant turn the women's movement has taken, and in The Morning After she casts a critical eye on what she calls the mating rituals of a rape-sensitive community. From Take Back the Night marches (which Roiphe terms "march as therapy",and "rhapsodies of self-affirmation") to rape-crisis feminists and the growing campus concern with sexual harassment, Roiphe shows us a generation of women whose values are strikingly similar to those their mothers and grandmothers fought so hard to escape from - a generation yearning for regulation, fearful of its sexuality, and animated by a nostalgia for days of greater social control. At once a fierce excoriation of establishment feminism and a passionate call to our best instincts, The Morning After sounds a necessary alarm and entreats women of all ages to take stock of where they came from and where they want to go.

A 24-year-old graduate student at Princeton takes on the feminist establishment in an explosive indictment of the women's movement today. She takes an unflinching look at today's sexual politics on campus and critiques modern women's willingness to embrace the role of victim.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This stimulating, sometimes scattershot mixture of anecdote and analysis, which has been excerpted in the New York Times Magazine as a cover story, is sure to make waves. As the daughter of Anne Roiphe, author of the feminist novel Up the Sandbox, Katie Roiphe arrived at Harvard in 1986 with a strong feminist sensibility. What she found there was a dogmatic feminism preoccupied with rape, sexual harassment and the image of women as victims. Now a 24-year-old Princeton grad student, Roiphe limits her argument here to a few elite campuses. She emphasizes the feminist value of personal agency when she warns against those who have expanded the term ``rape'' to encompass any unpleasant sexual encounter. She argues that rules about sexual harassment should be less vague, and that women should be able to handle petty sexual innuendo. She offers tart portraits of classmates who sought status from the contradictory powers of sexuality and feminist militancy, and attacks antipornography activist Catharinesic MacKinnon for her ``image of woman as child.'' Roiphe maintains aptly that feminists know less about rebellion than regulation. ``In my late-adolescent idiom . . . it was not about setting loose, as it once was, it was about reining in.'' (Sept.)
Library Journal
Roiphe, a graduate of Harvard and a graduate student at Princeton, offers a controversial counterview to some popular feminist attitudes toward date rape and sexual harassment, particularly on campus. Her premise is that such views reinforce Victorian attitudes of the helpless woman who must be protected. Sometimes scattered and flamboyant, Roiphe often sounds as extreme as those she criticizes. She targets ``take back the night'' marches and tends to downplay the effects of rape on its victims. Also, she does not always distinguish those feminists she criticizes from feminists in general. Nevertheless, she presents a powerful argument against the ``helpless woman'' image projected by some feminist groups on many college campuses. The Morning After was excerpted in the June 13, 1993 issue of the New York Times Magazine , and Roiphe was the subject of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (July 7, 1993). This is sure to be a controversial book on a controversial subject. Recommended.-- Sharon Bostick, Univ. of Toledo Lib., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
A gifted young Princeton University graduate student, daughter of novelist Anne Roiphe, defies current campus-based feminist assumptions, questioning the phenomena of date rape, hate speech, "Take Back the Night" marches, and the basis for the popularity of feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon (see above). At the heart of Roiphe's critique is a sense of betrayed promise: Growing up, she believed that feminism is "something like a train you could catch and ride to someplace better"—a tool for freedom and not simply a matter of "Take Back the Night marches and sexual harassment peer-counseling groups," of "being angry about men," and of "arguments and assertions that could not be made" because they had been judged politically incorrect by feminists. ("You could not say that Alice Walker was a bad writer," for example, Roiphe says.) Drawing in detail on her own undergraduate academic and social experiences at Harvard, she argues persuasively that a sort of feminist orthodoxy accompanied by mass hysteria has sprung up on campus, in which incidents of date rape have been hallucinated or fabricated, common language has become grotesquely politicized, and the concept of "sexual harassment" has grown to be a bloated form of self-pity. In an especially interesting chapter on the lectures of Catharine MacKinnon, Roiphe tries to break through what she calls "a closed belief system that is closer to religion than law"—failing to take into account, however, that the current beliefs that inform legal rulings are exactly what MacKinnon is aiming to change. Roiphe's perspective is limited but highly intelligent; and her most telling point is a well-documented dislike of a tendencyin feminist rhetoric to place women back in the role of naive victim—a role her mother's generation worked hard to overcome. A brilliant young contrarian voice, … la Mary McCarthy. (First serial to The New York Times Magazine)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316754323
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Series: Morning after Series
  • Edition description: First Paperback Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 841,817
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

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