Woman, Society and Change by Evelyne Sullerot (Weidenfeld and Nicholson £1.75)
Ithere is more to the A Women's Lib. movement than burning bras and demanding unlimited abortion, here is some ammunition for them. Evelyne Sullerot has made a calm and authoritative study of the position of women today, well-produced and clearly illustrated.
Scientific advances have minimised the hazards of childbearing and this fact, added to woman's natural longevity, changes the concept of womanhood — the maternal role which for centuries absorbed the feminine personality, has been reduced chronologically to a small portion of women's lives. The author shows the gap between lip-service paid to equality of
the sexes and the actual opportunities provided by the social set-up — opportunities are there but, as statistics show, they are not always utilised.
Social pressures and centuries of brain-washing have resulted in women being their own worst enemies and Evelyne Sullerot brings out the anomalies, asking "ought a woman to work?" and "what work is suitable for women?" whose answers derive frqm the ancient civilisations when "good" women stayed at home while "bad" women went out into the world.
The book covers the world situation and reveals some surprising facts — women in Communist countries have a wider range of opportunities especially in management, but the United States, always considered a matriarchy, gives less
e n c o u ragement (psycho logically and otherwise) to women in business and government. The abuse of women as an unskilled labour force, undemanding and weak in collective bargaining, is never specifically admitted, but is accepted in practice. The exceptional woman is often promoted as a figurehead in politics or business : the significant phrase being that she has a "man's brain," i.e. a "good brain."
Mme. Sullcrot does not delve too deeply into the cultural and religious reasons for discrimination against women although Judaism and Pauline Christianity are relevant culprits. Her implicit disapproval of the subordinate role of women in religious practices, emerges in the very brief chapter of The Church. B.D.