In the Company of Women: Voices from the Women's Movement

Bonnie Watkins, Author, Nina Rothchild, Joint Author, Gloria Steinem, Foreword by
Bonnie Watkins, Author, Nina Rothchild, Joint Author, Gloria Steinem, Foreword by Minnesota Historical Society Press $16.95 (353p) ISBN 978-0-87351-329-6
Reviewed on: 08/12/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-87351-328-9
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The editors present 83 first-person accounts from a variety of women currently living in Minnesota who describe their involvement in feminism. The material becomes repetitive when read straight through, making this most valuable as an oral history of feminism. In a competent if unsurprising foreword, Gloria Steinem recalls how hearing women tell their stories of illegal abortion sparked her consciousness and rejects the portrayal of feminists as ""white, middle class, and privileged."" Many of these women report the same events in slightly different form, mainly a realization that something was wrong and the discovery that feminism (in the form of consciousness-raising groups, women's studies classes, etc.) helped set it right. The most interesting information here lies in the details: Meridel Le Sueur, a writer born in 1900, recalls when her own mother was arrested for giving out birth-control information; Sara M. Evans, history chair at the University of Minnesota, tells how an early feminist group planned to distribute a flyer by sticking it in copies of Ladies Home Journal; Vivian Jenkins Nelson, now director of the International Institute for Interracial Interaction reports that her schoolteacher mother darkened Dick and Jane illustrations when teaching in the rural South; Evelina Giobbe describes leaving prostitution to found WHISPER, a group for refugees from the sex industries; and Judith Niemi recalls the liberation she experienced on female-only canoeing trips. While their contributions to the movement are definitely valuable, many of the young feminists included here add only a few obvious observations (""I get angry at the way women have been treated""), and the editors' footnotes on everything from George Jessel to pay equity are haphazard. (Oct.)
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