from the NYT reviewer: Writing with great passion, warmth, and wit on a subject that's never been explored in these terms before, Susan Brownmiller draws on the many manifestations of femininity through the ages, and demonstrates in beautiful and telling detail the many powerful nuances of that one word.
I found the title of this book a bit misleading. Webster's defines femininity as, "the quality or nature of the female sex." Ms. Brownmiller's book is not really about innate femaleness; it's about cultural expectations of women, which are sometimes NOT natural qualities. In fact, that is the very point of the book, which I did find interesting despite its purpose having been different than I expected.
Conservative shoppers will want to be aware that Ms. Brownmiller is firmly and blatantly evolutionist, and that coarse language is used throughout the book. I am, myself, a conservative evangelical Christian and, while I did not always agree with the author's reasoning or her conclusions, I found her observations fascinating and quite accurate. (Much to my surprise, she clearly pointed out that some differences between men and women are, indeed, innate.) _Femininity_ is, essentially, an essay on the subject of cultural expectations of women down through the ages, and the effects of these expectations on women in general and the author in particular. While at times these expectations have had logical ties to biological fact, many times they have had entirely external origins. Some are downright ridiculous.
Unfortunately, the text is a bit dated and I believe that some of the author's comments are somewhat inaccurate, in consequence. (As a stay-at-home-mom, I am quite confident that society's expectation is NOT that a woman should "profess as an article of faith that her husband and children come first"; my decision is far too frequently persecuted for that to be the case.) All in all, I found _Femininity_ to be a fascinating book.