The book explores the age-old paradox of utopian feminism—the treatment of the “other” woman or the existence of “sororophobia.” The book structures its examination in two directions. First, the “breaks” in metaphorical and literal sisterhood—the manifestations of “sororophobia” and “matrophobia”—are identified and analyzed. Second, persons excluded from the typical familial structure, the “other women”—the mistress, lesbian, foreigner, or woman of color—are revealed and studied. The book's four chapters present the differences between women and analyze how these have been represented, managed, and utilized at particular moments in history. The first two chapters delve into feminist culture in the Victorian era while the next two sections tackle its more contemporary manifestations. The book ends with a recounting of various ways in which feminist theorists tried to explain and contain the persistent problem of “otherness” between women.
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