Not One of the Boys: Living Life as a Feminist

Brenda Feigen, Author Alfred A. Knopf $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-679-40842-0
Although she never achieved the media stardom of such pioneering feminists as Gloria Steinem or Susan Brownmiller, Feigen, in a more peripheral role, has been an effective activist for social change. In this behind-the-scenes view of the women's movement from the late '60s to the '90s, she is sharply critical of the discrimination she has found in every aspect of her personal and public life, as a lawyer, politician, Hollywood movie producer, wife and mother. When she entered Harvard Law School in 1966, women students were told by the dean that they were taking the place of men who needed to become family breadwinners; the school's only eating club was restricted to men; squash courts were closed to women; and firms that excluded women were permitted to interview on campus. Seething at the injustice, Feigen joined the National Organization for Women and was elected its national legislative vice-president. Working for passage of the equal rghts amendment, she met Steinem, who became a good friend. She and Steinem conceived the grassroots Women's Action Alliance; the organization's ""newsletter"" later evolved into Ms. magazine. A highlight of her feminist career came in 1972, when she served as director of the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Alternating anecdotes about her personal life with movement history in a somewhat confusing chronology, Feigen recounts the failure of her marriage and the happiness she later found with her companion, writer Joanne Parent. Feigen's feisty attitude and her very real achievements make this work an important document of social history as well as an entertaining read. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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