Wednesday, August 31, 2011


now finished: Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement ed. by Robin Morgan
(post backdated to when I finished the book)

Sisterhood is interesting. And, OK, powerful. Reading an anthology of women's liberation writings from 1970 is a wonderful exercise because it:

1. Offers hope
2. Lets you look at how far we have come
3. Makes you realize how far we also haven't come
4. Could really help some of "The Kids Today" to learn a thing or two about history before they go off half-cocked when jabbering about Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, and so on
5. Could really help a lot of people who have consistently allowed the backlash to define feminism. You know who you are: the ones who say "I'm not a feminist but..." or who have ever once called feminism "anti-male." If that's you, you have allowed the backlash to define feminism, and you would benefit from learning what it is really about.

Sisterhood Is Powerful reflects one specific time period of feminism, the very late 1960s women's liberation movement. It is a fascinating look at the discrimination women faced at work - not just in factories and "pink-collar ghetto" jobs, but also in the professions. It is an exploration of the women's liberation struggle as it related to and overlapped with and separated from other struggles, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the desire for peace in Vietnam. It even has poetry.

The book includes Lucinda Cisler's extremely well written argument about abortion, birth control, and reproductive freedom. Sisterhood Is Powerful has pieces that are guaranteed to teach you something new, such as one about feminism in China. It features high school girls who were taking bold stands against feminism - where are they now? It includes inspiring quotes, galvanizing statistics, and famous feminist pieces such as "The Politics of Housework" by Pat Mainardi, "Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female" by Frances M. Beal, and "The Grand Coolie Damn" by Marge Piercy. 

It is an anthology, so you can dip in and out of it, or read one piece a day over the course of a few months in addition to your other readings, like a little feminism devotional.  You don't have to agree with everything written in it, but you can just learn from it. Even an excerpt from the "SCUM Manifesto" is included, not to be taken literally, but to make a point. (A Modest Proposal, anyone?) That's what reading and political dialogue are all about.

Highly, highly recommended!

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