A lot about this book really bothers me, but that s probably because it s based on oral history interviews Really interesting look at how the women s rights movement got started and why its demographics upper middle class white ended up the way they did.Edit what I implied way back when I wrote this review was that they were racists, all of them, and it came out through the interviews. Interesting book on the roots of the Women s Movement Initially I really loved it but then it started feeling drawn out and just off But a good resource none the less on women s history 3.5 stars. The Women Most Crucial To The Feminist Movement That Emerged In The S Arrived At Their Commitment And Consciousness In Response To The Unexpected And Often Shattering Experience Of Having Their Work Minimized, Even Disregarded, By The Men They Considered To Be Their Colleagues And Fellow Crusaders In The Civil Rights And Radical New Left Movements On The Basis Of Years Of Research, Interviews With Dozens Of The Central Figures, And Her Own Personal Experience, Evans Explores How The Political Stance Of These Women Was Catalyzed And Shaped By Their Sharp Disillusionment At A Time When Their Skills As Political Activists Were Newly And Highly Developed, Enabling Them To Join Forces To Support Their Own Cause From The Trade Paperback Edition As far as I can tell, this is the first draft of a story that has since spread from history to the sort of apocrypha that politically engaged people could be expected to know, and it s or less right there in the subtitle The thing about the movements from the sixties is that they are extremely well documented, or anyway, enough of them were to fill a whole literature with the comings and goings of people in SNCC, SDS, the Black Panther Party, etc I wonder what sort of movements from that period we miss out on, because their members and epigones didn t write as much down Neither here nor there, I guess.At this point, I think it s a reasonably familiar tale men in these movements, especially the insecure upper middle class white boys in SDS, routinely marginalized and often belittled the women who played key organizational roles in the sixties movements These experiences both taking part in the movements and facing sexism within them formed the seedbed for the women s liberation movement that burst onto the scene in the late 1960s and which reached its greatest prominence in the 1970s Evans tells it as a pretty neatly dialectical story if these women hadn t experienced the massive let down of movements that promised justice, equality, a real community but delivered patronizing attitudes at best towards them, then they would never have brought their grievances together and formed a movement Personal Politics has the strengths of the best early movement histories, especially its finely trained analytical descriptions It also has its weaknesses especially once the story leaves the south, it is overwhelmingly white and middle class There were women of color and working class women pursuing women s liberation and which engaged in a complicated dialogue with the other movements, but you don t get much of that here That s largely a reflection of the blind spots within the movements Evans writes about, but it s still a missing part of the story.For the most part, Personal Politics is a fairly concise record of discrete stages leading up to the formation of the various dedicated women s liberation movements, replete with copious drawings from the letters, diaries, and interviews of women who had gone through the various movements Evans has some keen insight into the inner dynamics of these groups Most interesting to me were the politics of the concept of community Not unlike Occupy another movement dominated by kids who had just barely started critiquing the system they lived under the student movement fixated on its internal culture, which was meant to prefigure the transformation into the beloved community like Arnold s sweetness and light, it s impossible for me to imagine how people would use such a saccharine sounding phrase sincerely.There s a couple of tragic elements to this The first is how clearly their prefigurative politics were a gesture of powerlessness and so was their eventual turn to violence SDS ran up very quickly against the real limits to the outside community organizing model Without a base in a class that take power like, say, the working class , you aren t going to get real transformative change, no matter how hard you work or how sincere you are to get playgrounds for the kids in Newark or whatever.The other tragic dynamic, directly relevant to Evans s book, is dealing with power dynamics within the community The student movement stumbled on pretty much all of them, but none than gender As it turns out, goodwill isn t enough to create good outcomes, and curdled goodwill can positively prevent them Among the most important contributions of second wave feminism that s the right one, right I get the idea that the wave stuff can be a point of contention is the rediscovery of the power structures undergirding institutions we all too often take for granted, especially gender, sexuality, and the family As Evans relates near the conclusion, the movement never quite got to grips with the quandaries of organizing for redefining and taking power But, there s something to be said for refining the questions. A considerably easy read for a monograph which draws in the relationship between the CRM, NL, and the emergence of the WLM What is important to note while reading this book, however, is when the book was actually written, and the reason as to why it was written Sara Evans is a historian who had written this monograph while she was working towards her doctrine in graduate school, which was then later published in 1979 Although Evans does accredit herself to a certain degree for participating within events that could be considered a part of the feminist movement, she did not participate in the events which she has written about within this monograph again, important to note that this is a monograph and not a biography That being said, it is important to recognize that Evans most likely wrote Personal Politics in the early to mid seventies, and was making a reflection, as well as pivotal connections, on a not so distant past There is, also, one other flaw about this monograph that rubbed me the wrong way most of the evidence that Evans has gathered which can be seen within her footnotes is taken from interviews which do not come from credible sources For example, Evans often makes profound, and sometimes questionable, statements in regards to certain topics, but once you flip to the back of the book and see where she gathered the evidence in order to create such a statement, it is usually from a sole interview Aside from these two things when the book was published, and where Evans had gathered her information , this is generally an easy, good, read. She does not use a personal account like Friedan Instead, she makes a historical argument that the roots of 2nd wave feminism come from women s experiences in earlier social movements Black power and the experiences of organizing, protesting, and cross gender involvement in the Civil Rights movement shaped 2nd wave feminism The New Left also shaped the Women s Liberation movement both positively and negatively Positively in that organizational skill, self confidence, political acumen, and a language by which to espouse dissatisfaction were all found in the New Left Negatively because the Machismo of the New Left often did not treat women as equals it relegated them to making coffee and copies In short, they were exploited in the New Left as well as outside of it Evans discovers that, in a telling example, one prominent SDSer could not recall the name of a single female member, while a comparison with meeting minutes reveals that many women played a number of important roles in the very same meeting Problematically, Personal Politics has a limited scope It is convincing in showing the effects SDS had on its members, but these experiences do not speak to the larger American population of the 1960s Evan s cites women s trend of decentralization and short lived groupings as a failure in organization Yet as Linda Gordon points out, feminist thought and New Left thought both endorsed these approaches as critiques to bureaucratization and over management inherent in the US society, government, and universities The first to draw comparisons between racial and gender inequality were southerners in the 1830s 1840s Missionizing brought whites women into black communities where they first discovered equality soc book review This mimics the pattern of the 1960s, when southern white women got involved with Civil Rights White women were expelled from the center of a campaign meant to end discrimination Male Female relationships in Civil Rights were compounded by race not so in the New Left IN this white middle class movement, reactions to sexism could not be labeled racism 711 contemporary sociology, sept 1980, 9, no 5 The New Left pushed for personal politics a way to motivate activists by having them self identify with social issues Women within the movement also began to focus on the personal as political Their personal experiences with discrimination sexism were authentic than say, that of white middle class males engaged in political actions against a war they never fought or against discrimination they never felt Turning the personal into the political was a powerful way for women to exert agency The New Left failed to acknowledge women s place in their movement, and women began to break with the New Left In 1967, women made a clean break with the New Left and began to build the radical feminist movement BECAUSE WOMEN WERE EXCLUDED FROM CIVIL RIGHT AND THE NEW LEFT, THEY FORMED THEIR OWN MOVEMENT STILL, IT WAS WITHIN THE NEW LEFT AND CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENTS THAT WOMEN ORGANIZED So, not necessarily a response to these movements, but an offshoot of them According to a review in Contemporary Sociology five factors shaped women s consciousness 1 Protest movements Civil Rights, New Left allowed for women to realize their capabilities and self worth 2 With success, certain women became role models for other women The movement built upon itself.3 Ideology that explained the sources of injustice were in place by the New Left and Civil Rights movement Feminists need only to adopt this model, not create a new one 4 Women involved in movements attempted to change a culture of passivity these movements did not allow for such changes.5 Civil Rights and New Left provided a network by which women could meet and later organize. crucial succeeds at everything you would imagine from the subtitle, but also just a really nice summary of the linkages that brought the left from SNCC to SDS and the anti war movement curiously quiet on LGBTQ questions, which is than a touch ironic when you consider that a big part of the thesis here is about the invisibility of female actors in the histories of 60 s political movements I enjoyed this book, it was good to hear about the how the women of the 60 s stood out from the crowd in an attempt to liberate themselves from the constraints of American society This book was great because it had a lot of quotes from different members of various groups, it makes for a great primary source The case is well made for the masculinist climate of the white wing of the movement being responsible for the emergence of Women s Lib.However the book seems haphazardly put together with several anachronies that are not justified by thematic or theoretical concerns Diachronic or synchronic Can t have it both ways. A borderline racist narrative about white women fixing the lives of African Americans in the South and then moving on to improving their own lives Don t read this.
Sara M Evans is a distinguished scholar and Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Minnesota where she taught women s history since 1976 She lives in St Paul, Minnesota Librarians note There is than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
- Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left
- Sara M. Evans
- 15 October 2018 Sara M. Evans