The World Split Open: 2how the Modern Women's Movement Changed America

Ruth Rosen, Author
Ruth Rosen, Author Viking Books $34.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-670-81462-6
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-14-009719-1
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Highlighting the dramatic changes in culture and attitudes brought about by the women's movement in the 1960s and '70s, Rosen details the rebirth of feminism, from the liberalism of NOW through women's liberation, which grew out of the civil rights movement. Her focus is on the ""hidden injuries of sex"" and how what had been construed as ""personal"" problems--abortion, compulsory heterosexuality, rape and sexual violence, prostitution and pornography--became political issues. She also sketches the political splits and crises--such as the Redstockings' attack on Gloria Steinem and FBI infiltration--that wrought havoc in the movement as the backlash against legal abortion and the ERA was gathering steam. Finally, Rosen outlines how, even as feminism was proliferating throughout the country among such groups as older women and trade union women and in educational and religious institutions, it was also becoming diluted by what she terms consumer feminism (selling goods and services to promote liberation) and therapeutic feminism, which turned the political back into the personal. A history professor at the University of California-Davis, Rosen often focuses on groups sometimes left out of other accounts, like women who grew up in left-wing homes in the 1940s and '50s and women of color. Because her narrative moves decade by decade, some subjects, like abortion, are presented in a scattered manner. But the clear chronology and extensive bibliography make this volume an excellent teaching tool that is accessible and broad enough to appeal to general readers as well. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Feb.)
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