The Lipstick Proviso

Women Sex & Power in the Real World

(Doubleday, 1997)

Dispensing with the outdated notion of sisterhood, Karen Lehrman offers women a "lipstick proviso": women don't have to sacrifice their complex individuality in order to be equal. The first book to move beyond a critique of orthodox feminism, The Lipstick Proviso sets a radically new course for the future of the women's movement. While there's still political work to be done, Lehrman argues that women should now focus on the personal sides of their lives. Women can't rightly be called autonomous if they stay with abusive or even emotionally challenged lovers; say "yes" to sex when they really mean "no"; overeat or undereat to hide their sexuality.

Karen Lehrman makes the valuable observation that “women’s emotional development may not have kept pace with their political or economic progress” and that “becoming fully autonomous, achieving personal power” has turned out to be a demanding and sometimes lonely pursuit.

                           Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review

This rigorously reasoned book skillfully fulfills its mission as an argument for a liberal feminism that honors all women’s choices.

                            Paula Kamen, The Chicago Tribune

Provocative, challenging, infuriating, and insightful … A major contribution to the debate about what feminism should mean.

                               Susan Estrich, Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Southern California

This book is a valuable contribution to the heated debate about the nature and future of feminism.

                           Nadine Strossen. American Civil Liberties Union

Women turned off by the more radical, anti-male aspects of the movement will find her thesis that "women don’t have to be sexless to be equal" liberating.

                               Publishers Weekly