1/22: The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000: A Brief History with Documents

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The American women’s movement was one of the most influential social movements of the twentieth century. Beginning with small numbers, the women’s movement eventually involved tens of thousands of women and men. Longstanding ideas and habits came under scrutiny as activists questioned and changed the nation’s basic institutions, including all branches of government, the workplace, and the family. Nancy MacLean’s introduction and collection of primary sources engage students with the most up-to-date scholarship in U.S. women’s history. The introduction traces the deep roots of the women’s movement and demonstrates the continuity from women’s activism in the labor movement and New Deal networks, the black civil rights movement, and the peace movement to the height of Second Wave feminism and into the Third Wave. The primary sources reflect the social breadth and depth of the movement. Dispelling the misconception that the American women’s movement was solely a white, middle-class cause, the documents include the voices of women of all ages, classes, and ethnicities. Topics addressed range from wage discrimination, peace activism, housework and childcare, sexuality, and reproductive rights to welfare, education, socialism, violence against women, and more. Document headnotes, a chronology of the women’s movement, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and index support student learning, classroom discussion, and further research.

— Macmillan

The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000: A Brief History with Documents

Suggested discussion prompt:

Do you think any of the readings in this text are still relative today? Are any no longer applicable?

 

1/29: Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future

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In the year 2000, girl culture was clearly ascendant. From Lilith Fair to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the WNBA, it seemed that female pride was the order of the day. Yet feminism was also at a crossroads; “girl power” feminists were obsessed with personal empowerment at the expense of politics, while political institutions such as Ms. and NOW had lost their ability to speak to a new generation. In Manifesta, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards brilliantly revealed the snags in each feminist hub, all the while proving that these snags had not imperiled the future of the feminist cause. The book went on to inspire a new generation of female readers, and has become a classic of contemporary feminist literature.

In the decade since Manifesta was published, the world has changed in ways both promising and disheartening for the feminist cause. Despite major strides forward, the wage gap remains vast; many feminist publications have died; shame around abortion has lingered and ’90s-style anti-abortion terrorism has reemerged. Many of the points first raised so bravely in Manifesta remain urgent—namely, why it’s still critical for today’s young women to focus on gender. This tenth anniversary edition of Manifesta, complete with updated back matter, commentary from the authors, and a provocative new preface, shows why the issues first raised by Baumgardner and Richards remain as timely as ever.

— Macmillan

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future  by Baumgardner and Richards

 

2/5: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

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Now in its updated second edition, Full Frontal Feminism is a book that continues to embody the forward-looking messages that author Jessica Valenti propagated as founder of the popular website, Feministing.com.

Full Frontal Feminism is a smart and relatable guide to the issues that matter to today’s young women. This edition includes a new foreword by Valenti, reflecting upon what’s happened in the seven years since Full Frontal Feminism was originally published. With new openers from Valenti in every chapter, the book covers a range of topics, including pop culture, health, reproductive rights, violence, education, relationships, and more.

— Seal Press

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti

 

 

2/12: We Should All Be Feminists

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The highly acclaimed, provocative New York Times bestseller—a personal, eloquently-argued essay, adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah. Here she offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

— Penguin Random House

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

2/19: Intersectionality

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The concept of intersectionality has become a hot topic in academic and activist circles alike. But what exactly does it mean, and why has it emerged as such a vital lens through which to explore how social inequalities of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability and ethnicity shape one another?

In this new book Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge provide a much-needed introduction to the field of intersectional knowledge and praxis. They analyze the emergence, growth and contours of the concept and show how intersectional frameworks speak to topics as diverse as human rights, neoliberalism, identity politics, immigration, hip hop, global social protest, diversity, digital media, Black feminism in Brazil, violence and World Cup soccer. Accessibly written and drawing on a plethora of lively examples to illustrate its arguments, the book highlights intersectionality’s potential for understanding inequality and bringing about social justice oriented change.

Intersectionality will be an invaluable resource for anyone grappling with the main ideas, debates and new directions in this field.

— Polity Press

Intersectionality by Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge

2/26: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

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Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

— Penguin Random House

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain  by Phoebe Robinson

3/12: Girls’ Studies

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Professors and students alike are taking interest in Girls’ Studies—the socialization of girls versus boys—and beginning to analyze the impact of media, pop culture, messaging, and more on America’s girls. Girls’ Studies tackles socialization and gender expectations, body image, and media impact, and gives insight into girl empowerment and how to equip our girls for a brighter future.

Elline Lipkin, a research scholar with the Center for the Study of Women at UCLA, addresses girlhood in the U.S. from various issues-based perspectives, including Body Image, Health, and Sexuality; Socialization and Gender Expectations; and Girls and Media. This text includes a forward-looking chapter, encouraging readers to consider all the ways—education, mentorship, activism—they might take real steps to promote empowering our girls as we look to the future.

— Seal Press

Girls’ Studies by Elline Lipkin

 

3/19: The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women

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The United States is obsessed with virginity—from the media to schools to government agencies. This panic is ensuring that young women’s ability to be moral agents is absolutely dependent on their sexuality. Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism and executive editor of Feministing.com, addresses this poignant issue in her latest book, The Purity Myth. Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is extremely damaging to young women. Through in depth analysis of cultural stereotypes and media messages, Valenti reveals that powerful messages—ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” commercials—place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, as opposed to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism.

Valenti approaches the topic head-on, shedding light on chastity in a historical context, abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex, among other critical issues. She also offers solutions that pave the way for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity, including a call to rethink male sexuality and reframing the idea of “losing it.” With Valenti’s usual balance of intelligence and wit, The Purity Myth presents a powerful and revolutionary argument that girls and women, even in this day and age, are overly valued for their sexuality, and that this needs to stop.

— Seal Press

The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti