Betsy Prioleau has been a scholar in residence at New York University and a professor at Manhattan College. She is the author of Circle of Eros: Sexuality in the Works of William Dean Howells.
Exploring themes of self-actualization, control, and women's liberation, Prioleau, an independent scholar, provides insight into the sirens of ancient and contemporary times. Seductresses were not all blond sexpots with hourglass figures, Kewpie doll faces, and the intellect of squash-some were homely, some were older, and some were brilliant artists, activists, and politicians. The author begins with a glimpse into the historical significance of female sexuality (and superiority) in the goddess religions, approximately 35,000 years prior to a male monotheistic society. In chapters organized by the various "types" of seductresses, she goes on to explore the active sexual lives of ancient and contemporary women. Mae West appears in a chapter about "Silver Foxes," and both Cleopatra and Gloria Steinem appear in "Seductresses in Politics." Equally fascinating are the stories of lesser-known women, such as Lou Andreas-Salom?, who studied psychoanalysis with Freud. In "Goddess-Trippin' into the Future," Prioleau pulls all of these stories together with a glance at a possible era in which women will not have to compromise their "brains, abilities and principles." Both insightful and entertaining, this book is essential for both academic and public libraries.-Melody Ballard, Washoe Cty. Lib. Syst., Reno, NV Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Prioleau is almost incapable of writing a dreary sentence... Delightful philosophy and wickedly wonderful advice. (USA Today)
Prioleau has gathered together historyAEs sexiest vixens and given them a delicious voice. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Prioleau's captivating debut is a fervid self-help tract well-disguised as a history. "Seductresses are in fact the liberated women incarnate," asserts the author in her opening chapter. "They're the stealth heroines of history. The first feminists." It's a persuasive argument, which Prioleau pounds home with massive fists full of quotations, attributions and texts from anthropology, religion, psychology, history, art, literature, music and anything else she can get her hyperintellectual hands on. Modern women have lost their goddess-centered groove, the Manhattan College professor asserts, and as a consequence the entire race is going to hell in a male-dominated, bimbo-focused handbasket. If only women would search their collective unconscious for their archetypal Goddess roots, they'd realize modern feminism has rendered them joyless, and the reality TV/Barbie look-alike trends are hooey. Rather, women of any age (there's a chapter on "silver foxes") or looks (another chapter on "homely sirens") are multiorgasmic, brilliant, joyous power mavens who possess everything to bring a man to his willing knees and keep both genders happy and sated. Telling wonderfully peripatetic tales of self-possessed sirens and seductresses throughout the eons, Prioleau makes a strong case for women to take back their ancestral birthright of sexy wholeness (though the problems of non-middle-class women, like poverty, among others, never enter her worldview). Whether one buys her argument or not, it's wildly engaging reading and faultless scholarship. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Oct. 27) Forecast: Prioleau could tap into the postfeminist and female baby boomer markets with her "grab it all" angle. The hip and happening presentation primes her book for college classrooms as well. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.