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Feminism Unfinished

A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements

Dorothy Sue Cobble (Author), Linda Gordon (Author, New York University), Astrid Henry (Author)

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Overview | Formats

The American women’s movement has been shrouded in myths, argue three leading scholars in this bold and revisionist history.

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.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • August 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-87140-676-7
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 288 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverFeminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements


Endorsements & Reviews

“By showing the importance of feminism to so many women of the past, this is a solid push back against the modern reticence to embrace the term and its continued relevance.” — Booklist

“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.” — Publishers Weekly

“Against today's bland corporate manifestos, the authors of Feminism Unfinished pose a rich, radical history of women's struggles and lend context to the battle for feminism's soul playing out today in the popular press and online. This is a necessary book.” — Sarah Leonard, senior editor, The Nation

“Forcefully disrupting misguided clichés, this pointed narrative highlights the transformative ideas and innovations driven by many generations of American women struggling for equal justice and aiming to be individuals and full citizens. Here, the full and continuous range of feminist efforts springs to life, tumultuous and internally varied as it was.” — Nancy F. Cott, Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University

“Resonant and revisionist, this absorbing history of the past century of women's struggles widens horizons and deepens understanding. Feminism Unfinished persuasively transforms how we think about social movements and, in so doing, effectively enlarges our political sensibilities.” — Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself, winner of the Bancroft Prize

“Finally, the last one hundred years of US history, but with women in it! Concise, clear, keen—but never oversimplified—Feminism Unfinished is an invitation to understand that powerful philosophy and revolutionary movement.” — Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Look Both Ways and Abortion & Life, and director of It Was Rape

“Edgy and important, Feminism Unfinished gives us one hundred years of feminist activism across all divides of class, race, and difference. It is a powerful corrective to hearten us in these mean times: The Global Feminist Movement Is Unfinished, and Everywhere Ongoing.” — Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt

“Hooray for Cobble, Gordon, and Henry, who have written the women's history we’ve been waiting for. Their vivid picture of working women acting together—women who were brave, funny, and fierce—is just what we need today when the voices of working people are rarely heard and the power of collective action rarely acknowledged.” — Karen Nussbaum, executive director of Working America

“[A] quick, compelling and astute history of the women's movement from the 1920s to today and the first major history of women's political, social and economic progress in the United States in a generation.” — Scott Porch, Chicago Tribune

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