The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation

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9780609803844: The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation

The women of The Feminist Memoir Project give voice to the spirit, the drive, and the claims of the Women's Liberation Movement they helped shape, beginning in the late l960s. These 32 writers were among the thousands to jump-start feminism in our time. Here, in pieces that are passionate, personal, critical, and witty, they describe what it felt like to make history, to live through and contribute to the massive social movement that transformed the nation.
        
What made these particular women rebel? And what experiences, ideas, feelings, and beliefs shaped their rebellion? How did they maintain the will and energy to keep such an unwomanly struggle going for so long, and continuing still?
        
Memoirs and responses by Kate Millett, Vivian Gornick, Michele Wallace, Alix Kates Shulman, Joan Nestle, Jo Freeman, Yvonne Rainer, Barbara Smith, Ellen Willis, and many more embody the excitement that fueled the movement and the conflicts that threatened it from within. These stories tell how the world we live in changed.
        
With The Feminist Memoir Project, these activists contribute to yet another movement project, the political work of memory.

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Review:

As the editors assembled this collection of memoirs from feminism's "second wave" of the 1960s and '70s, they were lectured by a member of a younger feminist generation about the need to move forward. "It is time for the old to let go of '70s politics," she told them. "To practice a little strategic forgetfulness." Contrary to this stance, the editors see the history of feminism as a necessary building block for further activism. "Ignorance of that time ... is also an odd handicap," they write, "like running a relay race with no idea of what's being handed on to you from the runner just behind."

An impressive group of women tell stories that should inspire--and amuse--a younger generation. The widely published Chicana activist and writer Elizabeth Martinez writes about experiencing racism in the women's movement on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination; documentary photographer Paula Allen and writer Eve Ensler (most recently known for her acclaimed play The Vagina Monologues) recount falling into "activist love." Artist Nancy Spero recalls her first feminist action, in which several women crashed a stag party of eminent art critics in New York and covered the porn-watching men with pies. Anyone interested in feminist history will find this book an accessible guide to the past. --Maria Dolan

About the Author:

Rachel Blau DuPlessis is a professor of English and Women's Studies at Temple University and lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Ann Snitow is a professor of literature and gender studies at The New School for Social Research and lives in New York City.

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Ann Snitow; Rachel Duplessis
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