Faces of Feminism: An Activist's Reflections on the Women's Movement

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Westview Press, 1997 - Social Science - 332 pages
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As one of the main players in the second wave of feminism, Sheila Tobias returns to Kate Millet’s central tenet, “sexual politics,” and argues that it can still unite progressive men and women around a common set of goals. Providing a map of a complex terrain, Tobias details “generations” of issues, each more radical and therefore harder to tackle than the ones before. She sets the story in two contexts: feminism’s own evolving strategies and America’s political landscape. Even though her passion for feminism remains, she is not unwilling to critique the sisterhood and herself for failing to see, for example, that not every woman would be a feminist nor every man an enemy. In the heady first years, feminists forgot that deeper even than gender is the liberal/conservative divide in American politics.From the origins of the movement through feminist theory and new scholarship on women, Tobias traces the political history of the second wave and its comeuppance at the hands of Phyllis Schafly’s StopERA—coincidental with the nation’s careering toward the Right. Somehow, feminism survived the 1980s, but by having to fight brush fires throughout the Reagan-Bush presidencies, the movement lost some of its breadth and much of its taste for the mainstream. Because of her activism and her feeling for the period she chronicles, Tobias is at once inside and outside the issues of sexual preference, pornography, the draft, the Mommy Track, comparable worth, affirmative action, reproductive rights, and the challenges of equality versus difference.

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Faces of feminism: an activist's reflections on the women's movement

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Although Tobias's "activist's reflections" are central to this work, her scope includes much more than personal memories. In fact, she has written an in-depth history and analysis of the women's ... Read full review


The Emergence of Womens Rights as a Political Issue
Feminism in the Postsuffrage Era
Betty Friedan and the Feminine Mystique
Role Equity Issues
Conflict over Role Change
The Batde over the ERA
Issues on Which Feminists
New Theory New Scholarship
Fissures into Fractures
Surviving the 1980s
The End of a Movement
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About the author (1997)

Sheila Tobias has been an academic and an activist for over twenty-five years. She has participated in many feminist gatherings, from the Congress to Unite Women in 1970 to the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in 1993, and is a former board member of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. The author of the best-seller Overcoming Math Anxiety as well as Women, Militarism, and War (with Jean Bethke Elshtain), Tobias now works as a consultant to universities on math and science education, equity issues, and women’s studies.

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