Politics and the Battered Woman

Politics and the Battered Woman

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s essay “Politics and the Battered Woman” [Dissent, Winter 1985] not only seriously misrepresents my book Women and Male Violence: The Visions and Struggles of the Battered Women’s Movement, but it is a good example of an all too common tendency to discredit a political perspective by appearing to adhere to it. Although she poses as a sympathetic feminist critic, Elshtain refuses to acknowledge—indeed wants to refute—my main point, that wife-beating is a reflection of male domination. This is what makes my book feminist, and no analysis can call itself feminist that fails to acknowledge this as a fundamental social condition. Elshtain’s attempt to pass off her anti-feminism as its opposite is only the greatest of the flaws in her essay; she also distorts my book, reveals serious ignorance about her subject matter, and resorts to illogical reasoning.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels