The Book Corner: Women Define the Agenda, Find the Power

The Book Corner: Women Define the Agenda, Find the Power

by Samuel Huber and the Feminist Press

It’s easy to get tunnel vision during election season. In these months of heated partisan debate, it is important to keep not only the long-term impact of a presidency in view, but also the larger goals and challenges that persist for feminists after our ballots are cast and counted. The books below have been selected by the staff of the Feminist Press to help clarify and refocus both our ongoing battles and the ones that lie ahead.

“A Question of Choice” by Sarah Weddington (The Feminist Press)

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision affirming the right of all women in the U.S. to safe and legal abortions. But reproductive rights remain sharply contested and, in many states, curtailed. In A Question of Choice, the attorney who as a young woman argued Roe before the Supreme Court tells the story of her life’s work, presenting the legal arguments in support of choice in clear and compelling detail. This updated edition includes an assessment of the ongoing attacks on reproductive rights being mounted at every level of government and offers a strong vision of how feminists can best fight back.

“The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family” by Madeleine M. Kunin (Chelsea Green Publishing)

Recent media attention to the tensions between women’s personal and professional lives has reintroduced the domestic into feminist discussions of labor and power. Former U.S. Ambassador and Governor of Vermont Madeleine Kunin uses her book to interrogate the ways in which American society still fails to support working women, despite the advances made by women in the workplace. By comparing the U.S. to other nations on policies like child care, paid family leave and equal pay, Kunin recasts the domestic and economic consequences of gender inequality as everyone’s issue.

“Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics” edited by Justin S. Vaughn & Lilly J. Goren (The University Press of Kentucky)

Four years ago, media attention to Hillary Clinton’s and Sarah Palin’s campaigns for president and vice president, respectively, taught us much about gendered expectations and perceptions of executive power, lessons that have informed discussions of this year’s candidates and their spouses. The scholars included in this exciting volume examine how the President and First Lady have been regarded and presented across the media, from tabloids to campaign ads and feature films. Gender will continue to play a huge role both in how presidential power is wielded and in how we discuss it, and this collection promises to be a helpful aid.

“Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism” edited by Jessica Yee (The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)

Feminism has made significant strides in the last few decades toward accommodating and accounting for difference along the axis of race, class and ability, but these efforts remain flawed and incomplete. The writers featured in Feminism for Real speak from a range of marginalized perspectives — and in a variety of forms — to confront the ways in which contemporary feminism still fails to hear or represent them. By contesting the boundaries of academically circumscribed “feminism” and rejecting distinctions between theory and practice, this book provides a vital reminder of the oppressions and exclusions feminists must correct within their own communities.

“I Still Believe Anita Hill” edited by Amy Richards & Cynthia Greenberg (The Feminist Press)

In 1991, Anita Hill’s brave testimony against Clarence Thomas failed to block his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court but succeeded in catapulting the problem of sexual harassment into public consciousness, sparking debate across the country and mobilizing a generation of feminists to action. This new collection reflects on Hill’s legacy and confronts the persistent issues around sexual harassment, the media’s portrayal of women, and the interaction of racial and gender identities on which her testimony continues to shed light. Contributors include Anita Hill, Melissa Harris-Perry, Catharine MacKinnon, Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, Edwidge Danticat and many others.

“The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues” by Angela Y. Davis (City Lights)
Angela Y. Davis has spoken and written eloquently on oppression and injustice for decades, but The Meaning of Freedom is her first published collection of speeches. In this book, Davis addresses a range of urgent subjects such as racism, LGBT rights, civil engagement and the prison-industrial complex, advancing a singular vision of how to make our democracy more inclusive, accessible and free.

Samuel Huber is a student at Yale University and a former intern at the Feminist Press at CUNY. He is the executive editor of the online feminist magazine Broad Recognition.

Also see: Our Feminist Media Road Trip: Time to Take the Wheel by Jennifer L. Pozner in this edition of On The Issues Magazine

Also see: Broken Politics: Republicans Assail Suffrage Itself by Tanya Melich in this edition of On The Issues Magazine

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