Sacred Cows: is Feminism relevant to the new Millennium? by Rosalind Coward (HarperCollins, £6.99 in UK)

 

Feminism, says Rosalind Coward in her introduction to this book, has been an astoundingly successful social movement - so successful, in fact, that it's time for a complete re-evaluation of the sacred cows of the gender question. Which is what she proceeds to do in this lucidly written, tautly argued, provocative book. Coward's central tenets - that feminism has been blind to its own success, that women now have the advantage of feeling morally superior to men, leaving the latter confused and disenfranchised, that women have been derogatory and unsupportive about men's attempts to change - will interest some and infuriate others. In particular, her discussion in the final chapter, "Potent victims", of the issue of date rape is destined to cause controversy, for she argues, with a good deal of conviction, that women are laying claim to an unparalleled degree of freedom in sexual behaviour and dress while refusing to accept a concomitant degree of responsibility: that it isn't any longer just up to men, in other words, to "control" themselves.