Cover image for Sex and power
Sex and power
Estrich, Susan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York: Riverhead Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
xii, 287 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HQ1426 .E77 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HQ1426 .E77 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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At the beginning of the 21st century, women in America are richer, more educated, and more powerful than they've ever been. So why is it, Susan Estrich asks, that women account for a mere 3% of the nation's top corporate executives? Why, in the year 2000, do more than half of the Fortune 500 companies have no women on their board of directors? Why is there only one woman in the Clinton cabinet? What happened to women's ambition - why are women opting out of the race for power, still faced with the "either/or" spectrum of choice? What message are we sending - and legacy are we leaving - our daughters, and sons? One of the country's most renowned legal scholars and political insiders, Estrich believes that until women reach the seats of power, where the rules are made, the deck will continue to be stacked against them and exhorts women to own the power they already have but rarely call into action, as consumers, voters, shareholders, agents of change. Bound to be controversial and certain to provoke national debate in this election year, Estrich discourses on sex and power and the revolution of sexual equality left unfinished. Provocative, impassioned, razor-sharp, and right on time, this is the book waiting to be written by Estrich - and the book every woman should read.

Author Notes

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The lack of women in top political and business spots is emblematic of the unfinished feminist revolution, declares Estrich, presidential campaign manager for Michael Dukakis, a noted law professor (University of Southern California) and newspaper columnist, and author of Real Rape. She highlights how much has changed for women who have entered institutions previously closed to them, yet how little has changed in the structures of those institutions. Outlining the legal cases that have promoted women's equality, Estrich observes, "Enforcing equality in an unequal world doesn't produce equal results." Successful women in formerly all-male fields are still extraordinary people, she argues, which means that ordinary women don't succeed where ordinary men do. Facts and stereotypes about motherhood hold back all women, she contends, exhorting women in positions of power to use that power to support other women: "if gender enters into [women's] evaluation, as we know it does, that doesn't change by ignoring it, but by recognizing the reality and acting collectively to respond to it." The corporations that are most women-friendly have become that way through a conscious decision-making process, Estrich points out. Publicity about the woefully low number of women on corporate boards of directors has also led to some increase in those numbers. Estrich's argument will appeal most to those who believe that the kind of social change she proposes will come from the top down. That her message isn't new emphasizes the importance, and perhaps the truth, of what she has to say. Agent, Amanda Urban, ICM. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Feminist law professor, political commentator, and consultant Estrich (Getting Away with Murder) has written a "state of the movement" report with mixed findings. Feminism brought down the "men only" signs, but almost 30 years later, women make up only 16 percent of the partners in the top law firms. Out of 2500 top corporate positions in the Fortune 500 companies, women hold 77. Estrich describes why: women still have family responsibilities that men don't, while jobsDand professional socializingDare designed for men, and concerns about sexual harassment inhibit both men and women. Thus, sex discrimination remains pervasive but is now subtle, so that middle-aged women who have taken the "mommy track" can't get back on the main line. The animus against Hillary Clinton, Estrich observes, exemplifies the resistance to ambitious women past their youth. Estrich combines anecdotes with practical advice for how to cope. What results is a fresh, accessible read. Recommended for public libraries.DCynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. In the Middle of a Revolutionp. 1
2. On Being Extraordinaryp. 31
3. Equal Under the Lawp. 49
4. The Facts of Lifep. 69
5. Motherhood as Destinyp. 91
6. The Comfort Factorp. 119
7. Changing the Face of Corporate Americap. 139
8. Sexual Powerp. 165
9. Political Powerp. 215
10. Changing Ourselvesp. 243
Bibliographyp. 267