Reframing feminism for the twenty-first century, this bold and essential history stands up against "bland corporate manifestos" (Sarah Leonard).
Eschewing the conventional wisdom that places the origins of the American women’s movement in the nostalgic glow of the late 1960s, Feminism Unfinished traces the beginnings of this seminal American social movement to the 1920s, in the process creating an expanded, historical narrative that dramatically rewrites a century of American women’s history. Also challenging the contemporary “lean-in,” trickle-down feminist philosophy and asserting that women’s histories all too often depoliticize politics, labor issues, and divergent economic circumstances, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry demonstrate that the post-Suffrage women’s movement focused on exploitation of women in the workplace as well as on inherent sexual rights. The authors carefully revise our “wave” vision of feminism, which previously suggested that there were clear breaks and sharp divisions within these media-driven “waves.” Showing how history books have obscured the notable activism by working-class and minority women in the past, Feminism Unfinished provides a much-needed corrective.
Dividing their history into three periods and covering one each, scholars Cobble, Gordon, and Henry (professors at Rutgers, NYU, and Grinnell College respectively) examine the multiple strains of American feminism. Featuring lesser-known activists, they show that the movement has always had leaders who recognized the importance of race and class in relation to women's issues as well as the diversity of what it means to be female. Cobble takes on the post-suffrage period, Gordon tackles the "women's liberation" of the late 1960s though the 1980s, and Henry covers the period from the 1990s through the present. The authors assert that the work of feminism is not yet finished, and that the new wave of predominantly white, Ivy League educated, and Internet-savvy feminists must listen to the diverse voices around them. The book's stories of the broader variety of feminist organizations offer useful perspectives for today's feminists: you did not invent this; your mothers did not get it all wrong; you are not done; and this might still take a while. 20 illus.