Bartky draws on the experience of daily life to unmask the many disguises by which intimations of inferiority are visited upon women. She critiques both the male bias of current theory and the debilitating dominion held by notions of "proper femininity" over women and their bodies in patriarchal culture.
In seven lucid, incisive essays written over a 15-year period, Bartky confronts some of the ways in which women can be disempowered by the society they nonetheless support. With uncompromising logic, she shows how feminism can be integrated into philosophy. ``On Psychological Oppression'' explores the reality of such oppression and the resulting alienation of the oppressed, and the similarities between the effects of sexism and those of racism and colonialism. ``Feeding Egos and Tending Wounds'' maintains that traditional heterosexual relationships keep women subservient through unequal exchange of women's emotional support for men's economic support. Women's acquiescence to their own sexual objectification and the inevitable failure of their efforts to match mass-marketed standards of beauty is discussed in terms of Marx's concept of alienation in ``Narcissism, Femininity, and Alienation.'' Other pieces consider the complexities of ``politically correct sexuality'' and how Michel Foucault's perspectives can be brought into feminist dialogue. Bartky teaches philosophy at the University of Illinois. (Dec.)