Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction
Rosemarie Tong’s Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction offers a clear, thorough introduction to feminist theory. With detailed chapters on Liberal Feminism; Radical Feminism; Marxist and Socialist Feminism; Psychoanalytic Feminism; Care-Focused Feminism; Multicultural, Global, and Postcolonial Feminism; Ecofeminism; and Postmodern and Third Wave Feminism, the book presents even-handed coverage of the major schools of feminist thought.
The chapters are on average thirty to thirty-five pages long. The text is, thus, concise enough to be useful in survey or introductory feminist theory courses. The theoretical origins of each school thought are examined, and each chapter also considers supportive and opposing views in relation to the different ‘branches’ of feminism. As such, the book offers a useful dialogue that not only reveals the important contributions of these different feminisms (and the key thinkers from each branch), but also scrutinizes the unexamined assumptions and biases in each approach.
While portions of the book are dry and a bit tedious to wade through, this is understandable given the wide-ranging coverage and the textbook type format. It would be difficult for any author, even one as obviously well-versed in feminist theory as Tong, to share a history of feminist thought that didn’t sometimes tend towards an encyclopedic style. Moreover, even though the coverage of primary sources becomes wearisome at times (especially for readers already well versed in feminist theory), the comprehensive approach that considers the strengths and weaknesses of each theoretical branch is well worth wading through (and particularly useful for those new to feminist theory).
One area that seems missing in this revised addition is a consideration of transnational feminism. An overview of this branch, especially considering its current importance to the field, would have improved the chapter entitled “Multicultural, Global, and Postcolonial Feminism.” Another missing area of feminist thought is sexuality studies and queer theory. Given the explosive growth of these branches of thought, this seems an odd omission. However, in spite of these absences, the book is certainly a very useful introduction to feminist thought. In addition to being useful for survey courses in feminist theory, the book also serves as a great reference text to have on hand, especially given the excellent bibliography.