“Taking A Break From Uppercase”

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Lisa Jervis, editor of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, reviewed “Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism” by Janet Halley at the Women’s Review of Books. Here is an excerpt:

I admit I was predisposed to dislike Janet Halley’s Split Decisions. After all, as a confirmed, lifelong feminist, I have no interest in being convinced to”take a break”from a mode of understanding the world that I see as a crucial platform from which to fight for social justice. And as a critic, I’m all too used to faux feminists such as Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Summers trying to spin misogynist analysis and antifeminist misinformation as constructive criticism:and garnering massive mainstream attention for doing so. Halley anticipates this stance, and doubtless she would appreciate that I am disclosing it early in this review, in what she would call, with one of her many annoying writerly tics, a”cards-on-the-table moment.”

My ultimate conclusion about Halley’s work, though, is not bound up in these concerns. Her take is at once too bloodless to inspire much defensive anger, and too obscure to sway the general public. Instead my assessment comes down to this: Split Decisions is built on a tautology, uses sexuality as a lens that distorts more than it clarifies, and cares more about high theory and academic categorization than about real women or actual feminist activism. …

–Ann Bartow

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