No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women

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9780345450548: No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women
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Repeatedly declared dead by the media, the women’s movement has never been as vibrant as it is today. Indeed as Stanford professor and award-winning author Estelle B. Freedman argues in her compelling new book, feminism has reached a critical momentum from which there is no turning back. A truly global movement, as vital and dynamic in the developing world as it is in the West, feminism has helped women achieve authority in politics, sports, and business, and has mobilized public concern for once-taboo issues like rape, domestic violence, and breast cancer. And yet much work remains before women attain real equality. In this fascinating book, Freedman examines the historical forces that have fueled the feminist movement over the past two hundred years–and explores how women today are looking to feminism for new approaches to issues of work, family, sexuality, and creativity.

Freedman begins with an incisive analysis of what feminism means and why it took root in western Europe and the United States at the end of the eighteenth century. The rationalist, humanistic philosophy of the Enlightenment, which ignited the American Revolution, also sparked feminist politics, inspiring such pioneers as Mary Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony. Race has always been as important as gender in defining feminism, and Freedman traces the intricate ties between women’s rights and abolitionism in the United States in the years before the Civil War and the long tradition of radical women of color, stretching back to the impassioned rhetoric of Sojourner Truth.

As industrialism and democratic politics spread after World War II, feminist politics gained momentum and sophistication throughout the world. Their impact began to be felt in every aspect of society–from the workplace to the chambers of government to relations between the sexes. Because of feminism, Freedman points out, the line between the personal and the political has blurred, or disappeared, and issues once considered “merely” private–abortion, sexual violence, homosexuality, reproductive health, beauty and body image–have entered the public arena as subjects of fierce, ongoing debate.

Freedman combines a scholar’s meticulous research with a social critic’s keen eye. Sweeping in scope, searching in its analysis, global in its perspective, No Turning Back will stand as a defining text in one of the most important social movements of all time.

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Review:

In the preface to her engaging narrative history of feminism, No Turning Back, Estelle Freedman thanks a woman we should all thank, someone who asked her to recommend one book that best presented feminist scholarship to date. Realizing that her only suggestions would require the woman to read extensively across a range of disciplines, Freedman set out to provide that book herself. The result is an expansive but eminently readable history of feminism, its political roots and objectives, and the case for its centrality to the future of women.

While displaying an in-depth knowledge of her field in discussing women's rights, work, and the more recent history of women's political strategies, Freedman also demonstrates a willingness to engage in critical thinking beyond her own sphere and range; she explores subjects ranging from the development of labor and social roles across centuries and cultures to the ways in which race, class, and other social hierarchies inform and define different "feminisms." Acknowledging that her book does not "tell a single, unified history of revolutionary triumph," Freedman examines issues related to politics, economics, race, relationships, health, sexuality, and violence within the context of feminist history. Though it could have been a dry polemic, No Turning Back is, instead, an enthusiastic look at how and why feminist ideas have remained a part of the political landscape since their emergence. Freedman not only recognizes the complex processes of adaptation and redefinition that feminism has undergone, but proposes that this malleability is what has enabled the movement to withstand the test of time. For an obviously impassioned (but still well-reasoned and solidly supported) presentation of the story thus far, Freedman's answer to this book's instigator should now be an easy one. --S. Ketchum

From the Back Cover:

“A compelling, exhaustive scholarly history of international women’s movements and global or transnational feminisms. From the struggles for women’s education in Europe to the anti-slavery crusade in the United States to anti-colonial and nationalist struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, women have fought around the globe for social justice and their own empowerment. This monumental study of women’s resistance movements cross culturally brilliantly shatters the myth that feminism is a dying Western invention.”
–JOHNETTA B. COLE
Emerita Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies,
and African American Studies, Emory University
“Estelle Freedman has accomplished the impossible–a brilliant synthesis of feminist scholarship and activism, truly interdisciplinary and transnational. Her lucid analysis of the past and future role of women’s movements is inspiring and empowering.”
–GERDA LERNER
Historian and author of Women and History and Why History Matters

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Book Description Ballantine Books, New York, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. First Edition.. 446 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Like New. WOMEN'S STUDIES. Repeatedly declared dead by the media, the women's movement has never been as vibrant as it is today. Indeed as Stanford professor and award-winning author Estelle B. Freedman argues in her compelling book, feminism has reached a critical momentum from which there is no turning back. Freedman examines the historical forces that have fueled the feminist movement over the past two hundred years-and explores how women today are looking to feminism for new approaches to issues of work, family, sexuality, and creativity. Drawing examples from a variety of countries and cultures, from the past and the present, this inspiring narrative will be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the role women play in the world. Searching in its analysis and global in its perspective, No Turning Back will stand as a defining text in one of the most important social movements of all time. "On the situations of women around the world today, this one book provides more illumination and insight than a dozen others combined. . . . Freedman's survey is a triumph of global scope and informed precision."-NANCY F. COTT Professor of History, Harvard University (Key Words: Feminism, Voting Rights, Women's Bodies, Women's Studies, Third World, United Nations, Sexuality, Scandinavia, Reproduction, Rape, Estelle B. Freedman, Prostitution, Patriarchy, Motherhood, Mothers, Lesbians, Marriage, Labor Force, IslamIncome Inequality, Industrialization, Goddesses, Fathers, Female Genital Cutting, Concubines, Colonialism, China, Capitalism, African American Women, Abortion, HIV/AIDS). book. Seller Inventory # 81589X1

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