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Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings
Author: Miriam Schneir
Publisher: Published June 28th 1994 by Vintage (first published December 12th 1971)
ISBN: 9780679753810
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Here are the essential historical writings of feminism. Many of these works, long out of print or forgotten in what Miriam Schneir describes as a male-dominated literary tradition, are finally brought out of obscurity and into the light of contemporary analysis and criticism. Included are more than forty selections, coveting 150 years of writings on women's struggle for fr Here are the essential historical writings of feminism. Many of these works, long out of print or forgotten in what Miriam Schneir describes as a male-dominated literary tradition, are finally brought out of obscurity and into the light of contemporary analysis and criticism. Included are more than forty selections, coveting 150 years of writings on women's struggle for freedom -- from the American Revolution to the first decades of the twentieth century. This updated, wide-ranging collection encompasses the crucial issues of women's oppression. A surprising degree of continuity between the ideas of the old and the new feminism is evident throughout. In her selection, Miriam Schneir has by passed writings that deal exclusively with the outdated topic of suffrage in an effort to focus attention on the still unsolved feminist problems: marriage as an instrument of oppression; woman's desire to control her own body; the economic independence of women; the search for selfhood. This richly diverse collection contains excerpts from books, essays, speeches, documents, letters, as well as poetry, drama, and fiction. Extensive commentaries by the editor help the reader see the historical context of each selection.

30 review for Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lia

    This book was typical of white, straight, cis, middle-class feminism. The essays were interesting from a historical perspective, though of course I didn't agree with a lot of the themes. What bothered me was quotes in the introduction such as this, "No feminist works emerged from behind the Hindu purdah or out of the Moslem harems; centuries of slavery do not provide a fertile soil for intellectual development or expression." Really? I feel like this is the kind of feminist who goes on about how This book was typical of white, straight, cis, middle-class feminism. The essays were interesting from a historical perspective, though of course I didn't agree with a lot of the themes. What bothered me was quotes in the introduction such as this, "No feminist works emerged from behind the Hindu purdah or out of the Moslem harems; centuries of slavery do not provide a fertile soil for intellectual development or expression." Really? I feel like this is the kind of feminist who goes on about how oppressed Muslim women are for wearing veils and so on. As far as I can tell so far [though I haven't quite finished the book yet], there was only one woman of color featured in the whole book and that is Sojourner Truth [who was, of course, amazing]. However, the editor printed Truth's famous, "Ain't I woman" speech without the "heavy dialect". You know, I've read the actual speech and it is not at all hard to grasp. I'm a little surprised the editor didn't replace "Ain't I a woman" with "Am I not a woman". There are three socialist/communist essays in the book. Two of them are by men and one of them is an interview with Lenin recorded by a woman. Engels and Lenin had a lot of amazing ideas, but I think they got a lot wrong too. [Engels had the whole 'liberating women from their shackles will lead to deepening of monogamy' and so on.] There were tons of communist/socialist women-identified folks [women of color at that] who left paper trails prior to the 1950's who the editor could have at least mentioned. Finally, can I just say that I don't get why everyone loves Emma Goldman so much? She was a kick-ass person for sure, but her writing just completely grates on me and I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps she just reminds of exes who idolized her. :P

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tani

    I got a copy of this book years and years ago, when I was all ambitious about reading nonfiction. Also unrealistic, but whatever. I've finally read it! I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but this was not exactly it. The book is composed of a ton of short essays, speeches, and letters. Each piece is prefaced by an introduction that gives some historical background on the issue. This was really helpful for me, because I don't know a ton about this period of history, which focuses pr I got a copy of this book years and years ago, when I was all ambitious about reading nonfiction. Also unrealistic, but whatever. I've finally read it! I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but this was not exactly it. The book is composed of a ton of short essays, speeches, and letters. Each piece is prefaced by an introduction that gives some historical background on the issue. This was really helpful for me, because I don't know a ton about this period of history, which focuses primarily on the latter half of the 1800s. I feel like I have a much better idea of how the struggle for basic rights went now, and I definitely appreciate that. On the other hand, some of these pieces were very dry. One piece is an excerpt of the property law that gave women the right to own property. There's part of a Senate report on women and work. There are a variety of speeches that I found really hard to read, and some of the pieces are so short that they barely feel like they're worth reading. Also, there's very limited diversity here. I thought pretty seriously about giving this 2 stars, but ending on Virginia Woolf made me happy enough to bump it up. Of course, keep in mind that I'm not much of a nonfiction reader, so your mileage may truly vary. I do think this was worthwhile for the historical perspective. I would just embark with caution, aware of its downfalls.

  3. 5 out of 5

    SaЯRah Muhammad

    I recommend reading the documents in full, this is an excellent introductory volume. You can read through it or skip around, but either way you come away with a knowledge and appreciation for the brave souls who came before. Check out Schneir's second volume, which deals the Second Wave, from de Beauvoir to Anita Hill.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    Feminism gets a bad rap. Surveys indicate that when you ask people if they support equal rights for women, they overwhelmingly say yes. Ask them if they identify as feminists or if they believe in feminism, and the vote swings the other way. Something about labels does an injustice to noble causes, allowing self-identifiers to grandstand and out-groups to demonize. Feminism just is the belief in equal rights for women, no more, no less. The struggle to arrive at gender equity has taken different Feminism gets a bad rap. Surveys indicate that when you ask people if they support equal rights for women, they overwhelmingly say yes. Ask them if they identify as feminists or if they believe in feminism, and the vote swings the other way. Something about labels does an injustice to noble causes, allowing self-identifiers to grandstand and out-groups to demonize. Feminism just is the belief in equal rights for women, no more, no less. The struggle to arrive at gender equity has taken different forms, and being supportive or critical of one strategy to arrive at that equity is not the same as not supporting the general cause. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings is a compendium of different expressions, approaches, and strategies of that struggle to achieve equal rights for women. It is a work printed in English, and the focus of the work are those historical figures in the Anglo-American tradition. The book begins with Abigail Adams' plea to her husband John Adams as an American Founding Father to include a provision in the United States Constitution guaranteeing a basic set of rights for women, and John Adams' response denying the possibility of the provision. The book features some of the voices of the American woman's movement like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as black voices like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, and, alongside Douglass, other male voices like John Stuart Mill. The writings featured in the book are of different genre. Some are political speeches. Some are works of fiction or poetry. Some are personal essays and others are formal essays or book excerpts. And not all the authors featured in the book agree on everything. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for instance, was critical of the American Woman's Right Movement for being too narrowly focused on the right to vote, and as a result she and Susan B. Anthony did not get along too well. Anna Garlin Spencer disagreed with Charlotte Gilman on the proper role of child-rearing in a world in which more equal rights were pursued: Spencer thought women had a place in the home that ought to be respected while Gilman believed that women in general ought to be relieved of the burdens of childcare, handing these tasks over to specialists, so that women could pursue their other creative and intellectual pursuits. No political goal will bring with it uniformity in agreement as to how that goal should be achieved. The multiple perspectives and the changing tactics based on different place and time are all to be expected with a complicated issue like gender equality. In fact, I highly doubt, some devils notwithstanding, that most argument in the United States or England, for instance, is really a matter of actively trying to suppress women's equality. There might be some non-conscious biases at work, sure, but probably the bigger problem is just trying to agree how one can accommodate everyone in a modern capitalist society. Simone de Beauvoir (not featured in this book, unfortunately) once said that the only way to achieve full equality for women would require a complete reform of the economic system. She might be right.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book is a great collection to have, well, in your collection. It is not the only compilation book I own and there is just some overlap but most of this material is not found in the other reader I have. Sub-sections include- 18th Century Rebels, Women alone, An American Women's Movement, Men as Feminists, Twentieth Century Themes. These selections are all about the thoughts, inspirations, people and actions that lead to the "first wave". I am currently reading The Feminine Mystique and havin This book is a great collection to have, well, in your collection. It is not the only compilation book I own and there is just some overlap but most of this material is not found in the other reader I have. Sub-sections include- 18th Century Rebels, Women alone, An American Women's Movement, Men as Feminists, Twentieth Century Themes. These selections are all about the thoughts, inspirations, people and actions that lead to the "first wave". I am currently reading The Feminine Mystique and having this reader on hand is a great help. When dates, issues, names of the earliest feminist arise as mentioned by Friedan, I turn to this book for edification. The only thing I don't like is the typeset used, I find it hard to follow and tends towards giving a headache. ps There is also a part 2 of most recent authors from WWII on, also edited by Miriam Schneir... the typesetting is different for this one !

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    It is probably a nice book, so do take your time to read it, at least in part. But I could not help myself from smiling of the shallow understanding of the curator. Some time, not so far in the future, this too is going to become a Historical volume.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lani

    I have a MUCH older edition of this book, but it doesn't seem to be on goodreads... At any rate, I absolutely loved this book. It only gets 4 stars because some of the writing was a little dry and 19th-century-ish. However, most selections were short enough to power through, and some I was able to just skim through. Some notable things I read - the interview with Lenin about women in Communism was particularly funny because he was still totally condescending and dismissive of the woman he was talk I have a MUCH older edition of this book, but it doesn't seem to be on goodreads... At any rate, I absolutely loved this book. It only gets 4 stars because some of the writing was a little dry and 19th-century-ish. However, most selections were short enough to power through, and some I was able to just skim through. Some notable things I read - the interview with Lenin about women in Communism was particularly funny because he was still totally condescending and dismissive of the woman he was talking to. I did not realize that John Stuart Mill was not only an out-spoken feminist, but was arrested at 17 for distributing information about birth control! How awesome is that!?! I was really intrigued by how pertinent some of these essays are even today. There was much discussion about women being underpaid and unequal, and the detrimental and inevitable effects on society and the labor force. I was shocked by the fact that there were women advocating - and apparently practicing - free love back in the early 1900s. There were even actively "militant" feminists breaking windows in England. Mostly I was just totally blown away by how much things have changed, and how much they really haven't. I've never really taken any classes that focused on any of this kind of history. I had always sort of associated the womens movement with suffrage and not much else. It's a real shame that things like this aren't covered more in high school history. Like anything else, these attitudes tie into lots of other aspects of history - abolitionism, the labor movements, socialism, etc. It was really interesting to read about these women and their persistence. Absolutely, 100% worth a read if you have any interest in history at all. Some of the pieces might be a little tougher to get through, but they're all worth it. A great job selecting relatively unknown works by representative members of the womens movement. The editor clearly made a real effort to choose sources that showed the breadth of the movement beyond just suffrage and job opportunities.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    Although I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to feminist concepts, it would definitely be helpful soon after being introduced to them. It offers insight into the early motivations and goals of the movement as well as providing first-hand accounts of the oppression women during the time period faced. Schneir does an excellent job of introducing each piece included in the collection. She provides the necessary background and context to understand the purpose of each one and organized them in Although I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to feminist concepts, it would definitely be helpful soon after being introduced to them. It offers insight into the early motivations and goals of the movement as well as providing first-hand accounts of the oppression women during the time period faced. Schneir does an excellent job of introducing each piece included in the collection. She provides the necessary background and context to understand the purpose of each one and organized them in such a way that each one built upon those before it. She also introduced many historical figures I hadn't been familiar with previously. George Sand and Sojourner Truth were incredibly interesting indivduals and everything I read by Virginia Woolf only increases my respect for her. She also introduced me to Thorstein Veblen who had the unique talent of being one of the dullest writers I've ever read. Seriously, just read her introduction and skip his section, it's painful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gre

    I certainly took my time reading this book, reading maybe a page a day and then not at all for weeks. It's not the easiest to read in one go, but it definitely was very informative and quite interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    If anyone wants to enlighten a wayward soul, this is a fantastic collection to give them--or to add to your collection. There are definite voices that should have been included (i.e. Alice Paul) but it's the most well-rounded collection of its kind, offering selections from the 18th through 20th centuries.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Vanskyock

    Loved the diversity of the various readings.

  12. 4 out of 5

    WndyJW

    Every Feminist must have this book in their library.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    Great articles that show key players in feminism issues. Very helpful for identifying those key players and their stance/arguments for feminism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    A wonderful collection of the often overlooked women who made a difference in history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Butson

    Great collection of first-wave feminist writings; an essential volume.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  17. 4 out of 5

    May

  18. 5 out of 5

    meredith ann

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Gordon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yasir Yousaf

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jess O

  22. 5 out of 5

    Imti Mukhasanah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

  26. 5 out of 5

    April Brown

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angela Noelle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Rice

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather

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