Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism
Edited by Kira Cochrane. Random House/Guardian (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $16.95 trade paper (386p) ISBN 978-0-85265-227-5
Reviewed by Julie Zeilinger. In order for the feminist movement to move forward, we need to remember and learn from our past. My steadfast belief in the necessity of my peers understanding the history of feminism, compounded with the disappointing realization that most high schools fail to teach students about the movement, led me to include an entire section on the history of feminism in my feminist primer for young women. My only regret is that, when I wrote it, I had not yet read Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism. This anthology of the best feminist writing published in the Guardian (U.K.) over the past four decades paints a comprehensive portrait of the movement—not via a biased, retrospective account of historical events, but through the very voices of the women who were there when history was being made. Through interviews with powerhouses like Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, and Betty Friedan, and the inspired reporting of legendary figures past and present, including Jill Tweedie, Andrea Dworkin, bell hooks, and Ariel Levy, editor Kira Cochrane presents a fascinating window into the heart of feminism. But even more than the impressive roster of contributors (including a refreshing showing of women of color) and the high quality of content, this anthology is most striking for its representation of the themes and concerns of feminists over time: how our values have changed, what we have achieved, and how far we have left to go. Whereas most historically positioned feminist texts pay lip service to the pressing issues the women’s movement has dealt with over the years—including violence against women, sexual and reproductive rights, work-life balance, and diverse representation—Women of the Revolution illustrates and personifies them, accounting for nuance and how our relationships with these issues have evolved over time through personal narratives and case studies. The value of this anthology and the rich historical perspective it presents is best represented by the words of the late Eva Figes in her essay “Why the euphoria had to stop”: “We are in danger of being lulled into a sense of premature complacency: we may have won the first battle, but we are still a long way from winning the war.” Julie Zeilinger is the author of A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word (Seal Press).
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
Paperback - 386 pages - 9780852652275