In this provocative volume, Zillah Eisenstein uncovers the hidden sexual and racial politics of the past decade. Beginning where she left off in her award-winning book The Female Body and the Law, Eisenstein takes the reader on a feminist-inspired road trip, traveling from the thicket of recent abortion decisions to the revolutions of 1989 to the murky chambers of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. Along the way, she enunciates a wholly original conception of individual privacy and sexual rights.
Eisenstein brings a range of topics to her discussion: the L.A. riots, crack babies, Murphy Brown, political correctness, the 1992 presidential election, the Gulf War. She seeks to redirect our thinking about democracy away from universal conceptions that mask racial and gender oppression to the specific realities of women and people of color. A respect for multiple differences—as represented in the needs of women of color and their bodies—is, she says, essential to inclusive universal rights. Reproductive freedoms and sexual equality, not abstract notions of civil liberties, provide the wellsprings of a meaningful democratic life. Using this perspective to evaluate the Eastern European revolutions of 1989, Eisenstein finds that the separation between their ideals and the reality of the market system illustrates the failings of democratic theory, especially for women.
Eisenstein's controversial arguments will provoke a rethinking of what race and gender mean today.
Zillah R. Eisenstein is Professor and Chair of Politics at Ithaca College and is the author of, among other books, The Female Body and the Law (California, 1989), which won the American Political Science Association's Victoria Schuck Award.
"Eisenstein argues clearly and forcefully for the importance of reinventing a comprehensive rights discourse through the recognition of individual specified needs."—Donna J. Haraway, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Inspired by events in Eastern Europe and building on her earlier, pathbreaking critiques of patriarchy, neoconservatism, and neoliberalism, Eisenstein asks: how shall a white feminist living in the U.S. in the 1990s position herself in a world where so much has changed yet so much remains the same? Her answer, daring and persuasive, steers through the post-1989 debates in Eastern Europe over the meaning of democracy; the searing race-gender controversies of recent U.S. politics—the Gulf War, AIDS, abortion, affirmative action, the Hill-Thomas hearings; and finally to the conclusion that we must radically redefine, not reject, liberal concepts like "rights," "equality," and "privacy."—Rosalind P. Petchesky, Hunter College, author of Abortion and Woman's Choice