The Past is Before Us: Feminism in Action Since the 1960s

Sheila Rowbotham, Author
Sheila Rowbotham, Author Beacon Press (MA) $16 (358p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6759-8
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Rowbotham ( Women, Resistance, and Revolution ) studies the development of Britain's women's movement from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Although a self-professed ``socialist feminist,'' she avoids programmatic interpretations by referring to an impressive variety of secondary sources--books, pamphlets, poems, songs and personal testimonies. Rowbotham maps women's changing relations to work, motherhood and the community, and all of the attendent complexities and contradictions. She asks provocatively why the pro-choice movement ``failed to incorporate the assertion of sensual delight into the campaign for control over fertility.'' Yet an arid, academic style seriously blunts the impact of Rowbotham's critical sense and meticulous research; as a result, her writing raises urgent issues that fail to urge. On overcoming government inequality she says: ``If the state is regarded as already embodying an alternative, the problem is evaded of how a state representing various interests in relationships of inequality has evolved into a state that transcends the interests of dominant groups in society. . . .'' (Aug.)
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