Author Embraces New Definitions of Feminism

Article excerpt

Feminists often view marriage and motherhood as oppressing and limiting. Many traditionalists, on the other hand, preach women's responsibility to stay home with children. Left without a voice are the majority of American women who don't identify completely with either philosophy.

That's the situation according to Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who believes the United States needs a new kind of feminist movement.

"Neither side {feminists or traditionalists} is really talking about women's lives," says Dr. Fox-Genovese, a professor of humanities and history at Emory University in Atlanta. "In fact, right now it seems both sides are hardening their positions."

Fox-Genovese, interviewed recently in her home not far from campus about the issues raised in her new book, "Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life," advocates a feminism that brings women together instead of dividing them. And although she knows of no organized group to push this position forward, she says growing numbers of women are defining their own model of feminism.

Instead of agonizing over how to balance work and family or when or whether to have children, "I think there's a younger generation that's saying ... 'I'm going to do it differently,' " Fox-Genovese says. This is "a generation where women are doing as well as men, getting into professional and graduate schools. They're saying, 'I am going to have some time to have a baby; I'm good, I'll go back, or I'll keep at it at a slightly reduced rate.' "

The feminist movement has for the most part spoken only to the upscale, single, career woman, Fox-Genovese says. "But the majority of working women are mothers or about to be, and the majority of mothers are working women, so the feminists should be heralding the working mother," she says. …