Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality
Are men and women really from different planets? In Ceasefire!, journalist and cultural critic Cathy Young argues that our current obsession with personal problems between the sexes has had disastrous consequences for women's progress -- and for men's as well. Young believes "the myth of gender difference" has allowed feminists to continue to see women as victims, at the same time buttressing conservatives' claim that the weakening of traditional roles has wreaked havoc on our society. It's time to re-examine our allegiances in the gender wars. Young insists that we must abandon the premise -- rooted in women's historical second-class status -- that anything that benefits and empowers women furthers justice and equality. This belief leads to the unspoken assumption that women's interests are more legitimate than men's and that their problems are more deserving of concern. Young argues that, whereas feminism once focused on inequities in laws and social norms, it has become preoccupied with men's personal mistreatment of women. As a result, bad acts by men are magnified into a "war against women," while women's bad acts are denied. A new emphasis on special protections for women rather than equal rights has dangerously eroded the rights of men accused of rape, domestic violence, or sexual harassment in ways that can backfire on women too. Meanwhile, conservatives have developed their own mythology of women's victimization -- by divorce, by sexual liberation, by pressure to work outside the home. Drawing on scholarly research, media reports, and real-life cases, Ceasefire! demolishes both feminist and antifeminist fictions. Young challenges men and women to transcend old and new myths, to look beyond the polarities of either denying or exaggerating sex differences, and to value individual uniqueness and flexibility. To achieve true equality, she says, we must pay attention to sexism against men as well as against women (without turning men into a new victim class) and ask women as well as men to rethink their stereotypical views of the other gender. Sure to cause controversy across the political spectrum, Ceasefire! surveys a wide range of issues -- from career/family conflicts to female violence, from sexual dynamics on the job to the problems of divorced fathers -- to offer a surprising vision of true social equality.
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