cover image The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism

The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism

Kyla Schuller. Bold Type, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64503-689-0

In this passionate and persuasive survey of fault lines within the feminist movement, Schuller (The Biopolitics of Feeling), a professor of women’s studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, excoriates the “individualist, status quo–driven paradigm” of mainstream feminism and calls for a true intersectionality that approaches the fight for gender equality “in tandem with the fights for racial, economic, sexual, and disability justice.” Schuller’s enlightening method is to pair highly critical presentations of influential white feminists with profiles of lesser-known Black, Indigenous, Latina, and trans activists who were addressing the same issues through a different lens. For example, the racist rhetoric of women’s suffrage movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton is contrasted with poet and abolitionist Frances E.W. Harper’s critique of white women for “consistently choosing sex over race,” and the eugenic underpinnings of Margaret Sanger’s birth control activism are juxtaposed with Dorothy Ferebee’s concept of reproductive health access as part of a broader vision of care for Black Americans. Other notable pairings include Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg and Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and anti-trans feminist Janice Raymond and transgender theorist Sandy Stone. Schuller’s lucid and accessible analysis of her subjects’ lives and careers reveals that long before the concept of intersectionality was formally articulated, there were feminists fighting for it. The result is an essential reckoning with the shortcomings of mainstream feminism. Agent: Ed Maxwell, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Oct.)