Woman's Inhumanity to Woman [NOOK Book]

Overview

We are all familiar with the phrase, "Man's Inhumanity to Man." Until now, a profound silence has prevailed about woman's inhumanity to woman. This book breaks that silence. While women may not act aggressively in the same way that men do, studies confirm that girls and women are aggressive, often in "indirect" ways, and mainly toward each other. They judge each other harshly, in life and on juries, hold grudges, gossip about, exclude and disconnect from other women. Women envy and compete against each other, not...
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Woman's Inhumanity to Woman

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Overview

We are all familiar with the phrase, "Man's Inhumanity to Man." Until now, a profound silence has prevailed about woman's inhumanity to woman. This book breaks that silence. While women may not act aggressively in the same way that men do, studies confirm that girls and women are aggressive, often in "indirect" ways, and mainly toward each other. They judge each other harshly, in life and on juries, hold grudges, gossip about, exclude and disconnect from other women. Women envy and compete against each other, not against men. Many women also hold sexist beliefs. Women tend to deny that this is true, even to themselves. Since women depend upon each other for emotional intimacy and bonding, the power to form cliques and to shun each other functions to enforce female conformity and to discourage female independence and psychological growth.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chesler, author of the bestselling Woman and Madness, explores the "shadow side" of sisterhood: women treating each other badly. How could her own mother have been so mean to her? How could someone who "borrowed" published ideas from her not acknowledge her or say "thank you"? In this treatise on breaking the "cycle of cruelty" between women, controversial feminist Chesler addresses why sisters fight, why some women prefer to work for men rather than for women, and other highly subjective cases of woman/woman cruelty. From the "demented Demeters" and "murderous Electras" of Greek mythology to modern-day Mommie Dearest, Chesler warns, mothers and daughters are doomed. Whether they acknowledge their mothers' viciousness, as Chesler does, or whether they're "unconscious" and suffer "amnesia" about the hurt, she says, the patterns are set. Throughout girlhood and into adult life, women repeat the basic lesson in Chesler's words, "maternal envy teaches daughters to be passive, fearful, conformist, obedient as well as similarly cruel to other women." Thus, she says, "an assertive woman manager might be viewed as bitchy and non-maternal." This comment is certainly more digestible than, say, "what complicates the aging process is a woman's life-long experience of all other women as rivals and potential replacements." Chesler draws her evidence from interviews with an unspecified group of women with horror stories: backstabbing by feminist colleagues, sadistic gynecologists, battering lesbians, etc. Needless to say, her book sometimes comes off as quite cynical, despite her claim that "I would like women to treat each other in good ways." (Mar.) Forecast: It's prickly and contentious, but it's Chesler so expect some buzz in the academic feminist circles she inhabits. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Second Wave feminists have for 30-plus years operated under the assumption that sisterhood is powerful. Indeed, women acting in concert have forced society to redefine gender, domestic relations, and the workplace. Still, despite huge gains in public visibility, female ascendance has been hampered by a rarely acknowledged reality: women often betray, hurt, and humiliate one another. Mothers stymie daughters, biological sisters compete, girlfriends gossip maliciously, and women bosses exert arbitrary and capricious authority. Chesler (Women and Madness, etc.) has been studying this phenomenon for 21 years, and her research is fascinating, resonant, and unsettling. While the book focuses on psychological rather than political factors and pays too little attention to race and class, it is nonetheless a groundbreaking look at how women perpetuate oppression. Anthropological, biological, literary, and sociological theories are also tapped, giving the book added heft. Although the text is somewhat repetitious and self-congratulatory, it is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Women are sexists too" is the not-very-surprising thesis of this reference-packed tome from psychologist, feminist, and author Chesler (Letters to a Young Feminist, 1998, etc.). While male crimes against women tend to be direct and violent, the introduction notes, the wrongs women inflict on other women are more indirect but can also have tragic consequences. The female style of aggression is examined first in primates, whose favored strategy is sabotage of the reproductive cycle, and then in humans, who use gossip and shunning as weapons of choice. Chesler examines those tactics at length in chapters on the behavior of young girls and teenagers, whose primary motive for punitive behavior is the desire to become intimate and bond with other girls, and of adult women, who are competing for men and their resources. Also under the glass are mother/daughter relationships in myth and reality, including Chesler's conflicts with her own mother, who "never had a kind word to say to me," and with her "intellectual daughters," some of whom betrayed her. A look at women at work and in volunteer groups offers an intriguing analysis of women-only enterprises, which may not be as gratifying as they appear from the outside. The splintering of the feminist movement in the 1970s is discussed from a first-person perspective, and the narrative closes with some advice on how women can stop undermining each other. Although this often seems a vehicle for Chesler to vent her personal injuries, she has done her homework, digging into psychology, anthropology, law, primatology, economics, and feminist studies, as well as drawing on her own case studies and a series of interviews conducted specifically for thisbook. There are footnotes and references for each chapter. The material is familiar, but feminists and sexists alike should find the package challenging.
From the Publisher
"A heady amalgam of research . . . again, Chesler's voice is breathtakingly bold, ruthlessly honest, provocative, challenging and compassionate. This is rough terrain, and Chesler is leading the way. This book's usefulness [is in] furthering an open conversation among feminists–men and women alike–who want to get past the infighting to a more expansive view of human liberation."—Tikkun

"A staggeringly thorough study of the cruelties, conscious and unconscious, that females visit upon one another." —Denver Post

"Fascinating . . . Chesler takes on the sisterhood like Sherman took Atlanta . [Woman's Inhumanity to Woman] is a provocative take on the nature and behavior of women." —Seattle Times

“Phyllis Chesler has one of the most original and provocative minds in modern American feminism. It has always been her style to turn the conventional wisdom on its head, and take us wherever that leads. Here she is in top form, enlivening her readers with an exciting and thought provoking argument about the other side of sisterhood.” —Vivian Gornick

“Once again Phyllis Chesler braves uncharted waters. In this lucid book, she explores a topic forbidden among feminists for too long. She provides an understanding of jealousy and anger among women, yet she is also compassionate. Like her groundbreaking work, Women and Madness, this book will strengthen feminism and help to end the sad bitterness Chesler so ably describes." —Susan Griffin, author of The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues

"Chesler's credentials are impeccable, her explanations thorough, her research well documented. This is not about men vs. women or women vs. women: lt's about people learning to be fair." —St. Petersburg Times

"I love what Chesler has done in this very important work. I find Chesler's careful perspective confirming, provocative and comforting." —Judy Grahn, poet and author of Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds

"An important book . . . Woman's Inhumanity to Woman proves that Chesler still has a thing or two to teach the kids after all." —Salon.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569762783
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 1,223,329
  • File size: 2 MB

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Animal Within: The Female of the Species 35
2 Indirect Aggression Among Girls and Teenagers 78
3 Woman's Sexism 124
4 The Mother-Daughter Relationship in Fairy Tale, Myth, and Greek Tragedy 167
5 Some Psychoanalytic Views of the Mother-Daughter Relationship 206
6 The "Good Enough" Mother and Her Persecution of the "Good Enough" Daughter 239
7 Sisters and the Search for Best Friends 288
8 Women in the Workplace 335
9 Women in Groups 390
10 Psychological Ethics 436
Endnotes 492
References 503
Index 537
About the Author 552
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