Books

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Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing On Page and Screen

Genre: Movies, Pop Culture, Nonfiction, Women's Studies; Author: Susan Isaacs; Publisher: Ballantine

Susan Isaacs, the popular novelist (Close Relations), saw some movies, watched some TV, read some books, and came up with the kind of bagel-and-lox-size theory with which Sunday newspaper opinion columns are filled: Women characters in popular culture can be divided into two basic types, the smart, competent, and strong who are ”passionate about something besides passion”; and the drips who give in without a fight ”to the limits imposed on [them] by virtue of [their] gender.” Okay, and? And nothing. There’s not nearly enough lox to go around in Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing On Page and Screen, an unchallenging catalog of titles and breezy comments, e.g., ”Make-believe mothers ought to be reflecting what we now acknowledge real mothers — real women — to be: complex beings with rich inner lives, people capable of a range of behavior, from egotism to selflessness….” Okay, and? And nothing. If you want an engaging analysis of why this is still so rare in mass-appeal movies and TV, you’re at the wrong brunch. C

Originally posted February 5 1999 — 12:00 AM EST

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