Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism

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Duke University Press, Oct 17, 2007 - Social Science - 387 pages
3 Reviews
In Finding the Movement, Anne Enke reveals that diverse women’s engagement with public spaces gave rise to and profoundly shaped second-wave feminism. Focusing on women’s activism in Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul during the 1960s and 1970s, Enke describes how women across race and class created a massive groundswell of feminist activism by directly intervening in the urban landscape. They secured illicit meeting spaces and gained access to public athletic fields. They fought to open bars to women and abolish gendered dress codes and prohibitions against lesbian congregation. They created alternative spaces, such as coffeehouses, where women could socialize and organize. They opened women-oriented bookstores, restaurants, cafes, and clubs, and they took it upon themselves to establish women’s shelters, health clinics, and credit unions in order to support women’s bodily autonomy.

By considering the development of feminism through an analysis of public space, Enke expands and revises the historiography of second-wave feminism. She suggests that the movement was so widespread because it was built by people who did not identify themselves as feminists as well as by those who did. Her focus on claims to public space helps to explain why sexuality, lesbianism, and gender expression were so central to feminist activism. Her spatial analysis also sheds light on hierarchies within the movement. As women turned commercial, civic, and institutional spaces into sites of activism, they produced, as well as resisted, exclusionary dynamics.


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Review: Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism

User Review  - Robin - Goodreads

Great book with a strong thesis and incredibly interesting case studies. Enke is a great writer in that this normally hefty academic book was a breeze to read. Read full review

Review: Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism

User Review  - Sarah - Goodreads

Interesting kind of case study of how the second wave feminist movement played out in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Detroit. Unfortunately due to time restraints (and forgetting to take it on a weekend trip before class), I had to skim about the last third. Need to go back and re-read that part. Read full review


About the Series
Community Organizing and Commercial Space
Public Assertion and Civic Space
Politicizing Place and Feminist Institutions

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About the author (2007)

Anne Enke is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, History, and LGBT Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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