A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors and Wonder Women

Phyllis Chesler. St. Martin’s, $16.99 ISBN 978-1-250-18881-6
Psychologist and feminist scholar Chesler (An American Bride in Kabul) recounts her experience as a feminist pioneer in this behind-the-scenes look at the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s. “I remain forever loyal to that moment in time,” she writes, “that collective awakening that set me free from my former life as a girl.” The book documents the individuals, conversations, and groups that were crucial to the protests, sit-ins, and other events, like the founding of the National Organization for Women, the filing of class action lawsuits to counter discrimination against women in the workplace, and the legalization of abortion, that shaped the movement and, in tandem, Chesler’s own personal awakening to feminism. While the book is filled with a fair amount of name-dropping (with numerous shout-outs to Gloria Steinem and Kate Millett, among many others), Chesler is forthright in her portrayal of these friends, mentors, and colleagues, prying open the jealousy, viciousness, and in-group fighting that were just as much a part of the experience as the bravery, resilience, and excitement. She recounts how Naomi Weisstein, one of the cofounders of the Women’s Liberation Union, was “trashed” by fellow members who felt she was too much of a star and wouldn’t surrender her speaking engagements to “less eloquent speakers.” Chesler writes that infighting “was ultimately the psychological reason our mass radical movement ground to a halt.” Chesler’s honest approach, oscillating between personal narrative and social criticism, illustrates the individual trials and triumphs that go into the formation of a nationwide movement. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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