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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 c 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.


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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 c 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.

30 review for Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kati Heng

    Of course I was going to read this book. Why wouldn’t I? It’s game plan is simply: to clearly and concisely trace the American feminist movement(s) throughout the last approximately 100 years – or from the moment women gained the right to vote until today’s women’s emphasis on “leaning-in.” Of course I was going to read this. Although a feminist, I’m completely ashamed of just how little I know about feminist history (funny how this stuff never made it into my history classes. Actually, it’s not Of course I was going to read this book. Why wouldn’t I? It’s game plan is simply: to clearly and concisely trace the American feminist movement(s) throughout the last approximately 100 years – or from the moment women gained the right to vote until today’s women’s emphasis on “leaning-in.” Of course I was going to read this. Although a feminist, I’m completely ashamed of just how little I know about feminist history (funny how this stuff never made it into my history classes. Actually, it’s not funny. My history classes taught me more about The Great Gatsby than they taught about early women’s labor movements). I’m ashamed that when non-white women speak about their discomfort with the way historically, the feminist movement did little to help women other than the upper-class whites, I had little idea what they were talking about. I’m ashamed that I could name hardly more than a few feminist leaders from before the 1960s. If you’re anything like me, Feminism Unfinished offers a great, three-hour alternative than taking a Women’s Studies 101 class at night school (which doesn’t sound bad. This book is also cheaper, though). Broken into chapters by what society would group as the “waves” of the feminist movements in America, the book starts off with the story of the 1937 Woolworth’s strike throughout Detroit, a byproduct of those first-wavers fighting for women’s labor laws and work-place equality. It’s an interesting concept, since I’m so young I don’t even really think about it, but the book talks about how, often the first step in gaining women’s rights in the workplace was not to get the women into men’s roles – it was getting the “women’s roles” to be desegregated. Of course, this goes into the whole step-by-step achievement effect that we are still experiencing today – to get better rights for women, we should focus on those women in the lowest position catching up first, then advance from there, so on, so forth. It’s entirely changed my perspective, given me a slap-in-the-face reminder that, more important (or at least, as equally) than getting a woman into the Oval Office in 2016, we should work to get women out of abusive situations, out of the worst of the worst. In feminism, it seems, there is little to no evidence of a “trickle-down” effect. More on this later. Anyway, the first chapter continues on with the story of early women’s rights victories and leaders that helped achieve them. There’s exploration into the power of WWII propaganda such as “Rosie the Riveter,” as well as a look into how, ultimately, this was not a success for women, since after the war was over, women did not move up from their wartime roles, but often, straight into the home or their old jobs. The second chapter (again, exploring the “second wave,”) focusing more on the 1960s and 1970s movements to achieve women’s liberation on all front. Think the progress of Roe vs. Wade (which has, since the ruling ever increasingly come under fire). Think the creation of a Miss America pageant contest that increased the sway of a woman’s intellect and heart on the judge’s decision. Think fights against gender stereotypes, against the idea that women in graduate school was still uncommon, that it was common to think of a woman’s salary as “pin money.” All the stuff my aunts fought for (therefore, find myself finding a little more footing in this chapter than the previous, which had just blown my mind open that I had no idea). Finally, the last chapter explores the “third waves,” a term coined by Alice Walker’s daughter, Rebecca Walker, as she wrote in a 1992 essay. “I am not post-feminist,” she wrote, “I am the Third Wave.” These feminists desired both to distance themselves from the feminism of their mothers, feminists who saw a dichotomy between enjoying makeup and high-heels and views on gender equality. In the third wave, choices were purely an individual choice. Actually, much of the third wave seemed individual. The book does a great job tracing the third wave al the way to today – answering, actually, another one of my questions (whether or not we have begun a fourth wave (in short: naw)). There’s a look at the rise of the internet on the community of feminism, the way the internet has helped feminist writers find a home for much writing that would have been passed by from traditional media outlets (thank you, The Internet!). There are looks into the riot grrrl movement and Kathleen Hanna’s brand of screaming feminist rock (which, in my personal opinion, there could have been like, 80 pages more of, but that’s coming from the number-one girl bummed to be born in 1991.) Of course, they didn’t have room to mention everyone my personal feminism has found influential (no Rookie??), but overall, it’s a great summary. OH, and what I was saying earlier about the trickle-down effect being especially relevant today! I’ve never read Lean In. I don’t plan on it, either. It’s aimed at corporate, HIGH-level female CEOs. I am not high-level. I LOVED that this book pointed out the flaws in the lean-in pressure many women now face in the workplace – for one, leaning in to our jobs is not helping the feminist movement. One woman becoming the CEO does not help the ladies getting passed over in the lower offices because of their gender. Two, for women in those lower positions, there are rarely opportunities to lean in. This is by no means a focal point of the book, but it’s a good reminder: slaving at your job does not make you a feminist warrior (unless your job is like, a rape crisis center worker or being Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then by all means, GO FOR IT, FEMINIST WARRIOR!!) Basically, for any Women’s Study majors, this book may be more useful as a gift to give to people to help understand you. This may not teach you much about the movement, as it is a concise, like 250 page summary. However, if anything I’ve mentioned above doesn’t sound intimately familiar to you, this book will probably help you learn about the basics of our feminist history and is definitely worth your time. It was definitely worth mine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    Let's face realities here. The only reason I didn't finish this book was because it was a textbook for class, it's spring quarter, I have seniorities, and I was too lazy to do the rest of the reasons. Yay for skating by. Don't lead by my example. Don't try this at home kids. Let's face realities here. The only reason I didn't finish this book was because it was a textbook for class, it's spring quarter, I have seniorities, and I was too lazy to do the rest of the reasons. Yay for skating by. Don't lead by my example. Don't try this at home kids.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Feminism is unfinished and so is the writing of feminist history. I missed the lesbians in this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Johnson

    Engaging, super readable overview, with lots of juicy and surprising tidbits. (Who knew that the rift between elite and working class women began almost immediately after suffrage, with the classism of the ERA and Alice Paul's National Woman's Party?) The book reads as three distinct essays on 20th c feminisms (on the New Deal to the postwar period, N.O.W. and the broader women's liberation movement of the 1960s/70s, and the third wave and conservative backlash of the 1980s to 1990s.) At times, i Engaging, super readable overview, with lots of juicy and surprising tidbits. (Who knew that the rift between elite and working class women began almost immediately after suffrage, with the classism of the ERA and Alice Paul's National Woman's Party?) The book reads as three distinct essays on 20th c feminisms (on the New Deal to the postwar period, N.O.W. and the broader women's liberation movement of the 1960s/70s, and the third wave and conservative backlash of the 1980s to 1990s.) At times, it comes off a bit textbook-y, especially Linda Gordon's essay on the 60s/70s which is separated into thematic sections: "work," "culture," and so on. I would have appreciated more narrative and analytical continuity, although there are some activists, like Pauli Murray and Gloria Steinem, who make multiple cameos throughout the book. The first chapter, which focuses on "social justice feminists" and their links to the New Deal, the labor movement, and the Communist Party, has a markedly stronger emphasis on class than the other essays. Because so many of us, including myself, were taught that the women's movement was something Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir invented out of thin air, this chapter is a potent reminder of the long history of feminism and its indebtedness to the struggles of working class and nonwhite women. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a panoramic view of the history of 20th-century feminism. It also provides a helpful roadmap for millennial feminists who've come of age in an era of corporate, lean-in feminism and wish to forge an alternative path.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cristin

    I wanted to like this, but there was just nothing new or special about it. Maybe it's my level of exposure to the topic as I have a Masters in Gender Studies and have a history minor.The book promised to be surprising and suggested that it provided a new way of looking at feminist movement rather than defining it in waves. I was disappointed to find that not much new history was explored but also the book lacked cohesion. There as never an overall statement or challenge to the status quo of how I wanted to like this, but there was just nothing new or special about it. Maybe it's my level of exposure to the topic as I have a Masters in Gender Studies and have a history minor.The book promised to be surprising and suggested that it provided a new way of looking at feminist movement rather than defining it in waves. I was disappointed to find that not much new history was explored but also the book lacked cohesion. There as never an overall statement or challenge to the status quo of how feminism is viewed in history. Each section had a different author and it reads like it is just an essay collection with little in common. The first section was well written and interesting. It seemed to challenge the wave idea in that it showed how in between the big movements there were still women pushing boundaries.However, it did not explore this area more. The second section was nothing but regurgitated history and not written in a remotely engaging way. The third was written better than the second, but provided no new insight. After finishing I cannot figure out who the intended audience is for the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adam Duracz

    Good overview of the history of women's movements in the US. I would have liked to see more detail, but perhaps that would have made the book too long for some... Good overview of the history of women's movements in the US. I would have liked to see more detail, but perhaps that would have made the book too long for some...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rubes

    “In the spirit of being nonjudgmental and open to all ways of living, this feminism runs the risk of being merely an identity to claim without any political content.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    "Feminism is neither a marginal cause nor a movement seeking benefits for a minority. It is a cause for everyone. it has taken many forms, always responding to changing historical circumstances, and will be reinvented by future generations. As Feminism Unfinished reveals, what it means to be a feminist is constantly under construction." "Post social justice feminists recognized that women had different ideas about what liberation meant, and they sought to create better options for nonprofession "Feminism is neither a marginal cause nor a movement seeking benefits for a minority. It is a cause for everyone. it has taken many forms, always responding to changing historical circumstances, and will be reinvented by future generations. As Feminism Unfinished reveals, what it means to be a feminist is constantly under construction." "Post social justice feminists recognized that women had different ideas about what liberation meant, and they sought to create better options for nonprofessional women as well as more choice for all women. In their view, solving the "double day" for nonprofessional women meant creating more good jobs-jobs with higher wages and shorter hours-and greater access to them for all women. It also meant recognizing and reevaluating mothering and the work of the home." "Eradicating the "sex bias" in wages meant rethinking the value, pay, and productivity of all jobs and understanding that women, like men, deserved a wage capable of providing support for themselves and their dependents. The language of the legislation they introduced reflected this expansive notion of "equal pay" and "sex bias" in wages. The 1945 bill, for example, specified that it would be "an unfair wage practice" to pay women less than men in jobs with "comparable quantity and quality" or in jobs with "comparable skills." The jobs typically held by women were undervalued as to their skill, responsibility, and productivity. Once reevaluated, advocates believed, the pay in most majority-female jobs would adjust upward." "In 1962, as the labor-backed equal pay bill inched along the tortuous route to becoming law, it met formidable opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and key conservative legislators, women and men." "Feminist organizing differed from that of the civil rights and labor movements, because unlike members of those movements, who knew that they were discriminated against and exploited, many white middle-class women were unconscious of their own oppression and limited opportunities. This was partly because many of them had spent most of their years in school, where sex discrimination was less marked than in the worlds of employment and housewifery. But their lack of consciousness also arose from accepting the gender system as a "natural" and inevitable outgrowth of their sex. They had to unlearn what Marists call a false consciousness. Th eimpact of consciousness-raising groups can be seen in the fact that most Americans today understand the difference between "sex," a biological category, and "gender," a matter of socialization. This was a distinction entirely new in 1969. "To speak of gender signaled that women's subordinate position was not natural but socially, economically, and culturally constructed. Understanding sexism as learned-taught, like racism, to children from their earliest years-meant that it could be unlearned. It followed that what had been constructed by humans could be deconstructed and replaced with greater freedom and equality." "From the civil rights concept of "structural racism," the new feminists came to understand structural sexism: that is, discrimination against women did not necessarily arise from sexist or misogynist attitudes but from structures, i.e., the most basic organization and institutions of the economy, society, and culture. The fact that a man earned more for the same job was not his fault, and he could not individually opt out of that situation." "Sisterhood talk and a one-size-fits-all feminist program were not harmless; in reflecting the class and race upbringings and cultures of those who dominated the movement, middle-class women built walls around themselves. Despite their best intentions and despite their conscious opposition to racism, their priorities and assumptions sometimes blinded them to the situation of women of color and poorer women." "The single greatest influence on women's liberation was civil rights, and many early feminists were veterans of that movement." "For many women, becoming a feminist grew out of a process of reognizing how men-often unconsciously-could render women invisible as subjects, only visible as bodies." "From both the civil rights and anti-war movements came the understanding that the United States was not thoroughly democratic but was governed by politicians whose greatest loyalty and accountability were to wealthy donors and lobbyists." "Women's employment was a major factor strengthening feminism: there is nothing like seeing one's hard work and competence disregarded to make women notice the inequality of the sexes." "Living in a "half-changed world" has left women in a sort of limbo, not sure how to navigate the new realities that exist alongside traditional demands." "Women's participation in the workforce is almost equal to men's, yet women are still overwhelmingly responsible for cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children when they get home from work." "The economic successes of women like Sheryl Sandberg and Oprah Winfrey are symbolically important of women's increasing power in the twenty-first century, but they do little to change the day-to-day realities of most women's lives in a country in which one in sevem people lives in poverty." "Feminism in the twenty-first century, aided by technology, has become more global, in the sense that activists can work toward a shared goal that crosses borders, and more international, in the sense that activists can gain knowledge of the feminist issues that define specific nations." "Looking forward, the unfinished work of feminism will require a diversity of voices, willing to come together to secure freedom and justice for all." "In short, few feminist gains are equally distributes; the struggle for sex equality connot be separated from other dimensions of inequality. The fact that inequality is growing is a direct threat to the goals of feminism." "U.S. feminism was never just a celebration of individualism or of individual achievement. It was always a broad stream with many currents. And some of the most powerful of those currents understood that the fortunes of each are intertwined with the fortunes of all. As with all progressive social movements, solidarity and a sense of responsibility toward others have been fundamental to feminism." "Women's rights require continuous defense and expansion to meet new needs." "Femisnism is far from over. We don't know what it will look like, because each generation will reinvent it. Just as the feminism of the past has always been influenced by changes in society as a whole, so too will the feminism of the future be. It may well be more gloabl and may well be led by women from the poorer countries of the world."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian Palmer

    I'm not sure where the 'surprising' part of the title came from, but this is a concise description of the history of feminism in the United States, and worth reading for that alone. It's divided into several parts, each of which reads like a short encyclopedia article describing the timing. However, one thing that the title and the early chapters on suffragettes seemed to promise which the book didn't quite deliver on was an analysis of the different 'feminisms' or 'women's movements' (with emph I'm not sure where the 'surprising' part of the title came from, but this is a concise description of the history of feminism in the United States, and worth reading for that alone. It's divided into several parts, each of which reads like a short encyclopedia article describing the timing. However, one thing that the title and the early chapters on suffragettes seemed to promise which the book didn't quite deliver on was an analysis of the different 'feminisms' or 'women's movements' (with emphasis on the plurality). To the extent that these come up, it was mostly in dividing feminism along racial lines; the notion that there was a single coherent group of feminists is far too simple. In early chapters, it described it as splitting along social justice feminism and androgynous feminism (this last being feminism that wanted de jure equality among men and women, turning a blind eye to sex or gender; the former being feminism that favored structural interventions to compensate for systemic sexism, with a focus on intersectionality). With this came some discussion of a feminist case against the Equal Rights Amendment and similar laws. But in its discussion of feminist politics of the 1970s and the "third wave" feminism of the 1990s and beyond, the book shifted away from discussing deep sides of issues, instead providing almost laundry lists of things that various groups focused on or particular authors have talked about. I didn't get that sense that these were grouped into feminisms or movements; just different points to argue about. Although the title may oversell its contents, this is pretty ideal for a quick overview & history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nana

    This is a wonderful, enlightening, very digestible read I would recommend for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. It is, as the title suggests, a history of feminism after suffrage. It opposed the "wave" model of feminist history and describes it more as an ongoing, ever changing movement, featuring many different groups with different focuses and tactics- and that these groups often did not agree. It introduces you to many less known, but amazing women who have advocated feminism throug This is a wonderful, enlightening, very digestible read I would recommend for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. It is, as the title suggests, a history of feminism after suffrage. It opposed the "wave" model of feminist history and describes it more as an ongoing, ever changing movement, featuring many different groups with different focuses and tactics- and that these groups often did not agree. It introduces you to many less known, but amazing women who have advocated feminism through its various iterations, and stresses the importance of viewing feminism from an intersectional perspective by giving equal time to the stories of feminists of color whose issue focuses were distinct, and to explaining how class and feminist activism and causes have interacted. I was very happy to see how conscious these authors were of these important and often overlooked facts and figures. This book is not without flaws - the third chapter can feel a little repetitive etc, but I'd heartily recommend it! I learned very much and gained an appreciation for sects of the feminist movement throughout history that I knew little to nothing about before this - which is exactly what I think this book set out to do. (When I was reading this one day before class, my professor said in a very pleased fashion to me, "Oh, you're outing yourself as a feminist!" Outing?! Yes, loudly, proudly, forever....)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Mostly well written, informative history of feminism in the 20th century. The chapter on second wave feminism is a little troublesome in some of its sweeping claims that this or that were the *all-time most important* contributions of second-wave feminism, which is a pretty broad claim for any scholar to make. There are some generalizations, but this isn't an in-depth historical look -- it's a straightforward, brief history of some contentions within each wave of the feminist movement. Feminism h Mostly well written, informative history of feminism in the 20th century. The chapter on second wave feminism is a little troublesome in some of its sweeping claims that this or that were the *all-time most important* contributions of second-wave feminism, which is a pretty broad claim for any scholar to make. There are some generalizations, but this isn't an in-depth historical look -- it's a straightforward, brief history of some contentions within each wave of the feminist movement. Feminism has been an important part of my life since I encountered my first sociology class in college, and I do feel like this is a good primer for anyone who is confused as to what exactly "feminism" is as a movement, how it has been shaped, and how it continues to change. It's an important, dynamic movement, and I do think that the majority of this book is informative so long as its readers don't take the authors' claims as absolute gospel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Feminism Unfinished knows its history, but the book - split into three sections, each written by a different author - is nonetheless a dry, textbook history of, as the title suggests, American women's movements from 1920. I think that, in trying to cover everything, the authors left a lot out, and what was covered was just not that interesting. (Is it an age thing? Maybe it's an age thing.) Recommended for readers who don't have the time to sit through a semester-long course on women's studies an Feminism Unfinished knows its history, but the book - split into three sections, each written by a different author - is nonetheless a dry, textbook history of, as the title suggests, American women's movements from 1920. I think that, in trying to cover everything, the authors left a lot out, and what was covered was just not that interesting. (Is it an age thing? Maybe it's an age thing.) Recommended for readers who don't have the time to sit through a semester-long course on women's studies and just want the quick and dirty lowdown of capital-F Feminism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rooks

    Good overview with some less common frameworks; mentions peak white feminism while nonetheless periodically continuing to invoke it. (Ex. The book points out that the feminist movement of the 70s didn’t fully integrate working class needs into economic policy goals, but the authors still refer to “women” making “77 cents” on the male dollar, when that’s what *white* women make—with Latinas at 58 cents on the white male dollar, the language similarly invisibilizes WoC even as the authors are call Good overview with some less common frameworks; mentions peak white feminism while nonetheless periodically continuing to invoke it. (Ex. The book points out that the feminist movement of the 70s didn’t fully integrate working class needs into economic policy goals, but the authors still refer to “women” making “77 cents” on the male dollar, when that’s what *white* women make—with Latinas at 58 cents on the white male dollar, the language similarly invisibilizes WoC even as the authors are calling that practice into question.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    Analysis of the Women's Movement in the US, that didn't hold any surprises except that so little attention was paid by the authors to Title Nine, which has had a dramatic impact on my life and that of my daughter's. Analysis of the Women's Movement in the US, that didn't hold any surprises except that so little attention was paid by the authors to Title Nine, which has had a dramatic impact on my life and that of my daughter's.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Most interesting parts are about the connections between the women's movement and the labor movement. Glad I read it, but it's by no means one of my favorite books about feminism. Most interesting parts are about the connections between the women's movement and the labor movement. Glad I read it, but it's by no means one of my favorite books about feminism.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    Related ... https://libcom.org/library/‘-spontane... “ A spontaneous loss of enthusiasm’: workplace feminism and the transformation of women’s service jobs in the 1970s - Dorothy Sue Cobble An analysis of the gendered dynamics in the class struggle in the 1970s US service sector. In 1972, a group of tired stewardesses tried to explain their concerns to the incredulous male transit union officials who led their union. No, the primary issues were not wages and benefits, they insisted, but the particul Related ... https://libcom.org/library/‘-spontane... “ A spontaneous loss of enthusiasm’: workplace feminism and the transformation of women’s service jobs in the 1970s - Dorothy Sue Cobble An analysis of the gendered dynamics in the class struggle in the 1970s US service sector. In 1972, a group of tired stewardesses tried to explain their concerns to the incredulous male transit union officials who led their union. No, the primary issues were not wages and benefits, they insisted, but the particular cut of their uniforms and the sexual insinuations made about their occupation in the new airline advertisements. Their words fell on deaf ears. Despite their commonalities as transportation workers, the gender gap separating the two groups was simply too wide to cross. Indeed, male subway drivers could not understand why the stewardesses would object to their glamorous sex-object image. Deeply held gendered notions of unionism and politics also stood in the way of communication. For even if the complaints of stewardesses were accepted as “real,” to many male union leaders they seemed petty: matters not deserving of serious attention, let alone concerted activity. The gender gap in labor history may not be quite as wide as that between female flight attendants and male subway drivers. But many of the same processes have blocked productive communication and hindered the intellectual development of the field. Labor history scholarship still rests upon gendered definitions of work, politics, and unionism. Just as significantly, the overall narratives that dominate the field incorporate neither the history of female-dominated occupations and industries nor that of women’s particular forms of collective action. The relative neglect of service work, where the overwhelming number of women wage earners work, is particularly problematic. The history of work and unions in the twentieth-century United States, for example, is tied largely to changes taking place in the manufacturing sector. Thus, taking factory work as the empirical basis for generalization, one oft-told tale is of the overall deskilling of work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the replacement of craft systems of control by a new managerial class, and the rise of welfare capitalism. 1 The relation of unionism to these organizational reforms is complex. The general consensus, however, is that by the 1930s the industrial unionists had rejected the paternalistic overtones of welfare capitalism while accepting many of the actual managerial practices that were in place. Unionists demanded that many of the benefits provided by employers in the 1920s be continued as rights under a union contract rather than as gifts from a benevolent patriarch. They preferred bureaucratic rules governing hiring, firing, and discipline to governance by foremen’s whimsy, and they favored wage rates tied to job classification over ones linked to worker morality, personal habits, and family status. Thus, by the 1930s and 1940s, in many unionized settings, the arbitrary personalism of foremen and supervisors was tempered by bureaucratic fiat, and court-backed contracts specifying wages, benefits, and working conditions replaced the unsteady largess of individual employers. From one perspective, this “modernization” of the workplace was but the triumph of hierarchical managerial power masked as bureaucracy, but these same workplace innovations and institutions also ensured equity, dignity, and industrial citizenship.2

  17. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I taught this book for the first time this semester in my Intro to Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies course—would absolutely teach chapters 1 & 3 again in future semesters. Cobble’s encompassing narrative does a great job of filling in the “trough” of history after feminism’s first wave, clearly characterizing the major groups, their goals, contentions, and key events of the period. I appreciated her fairly even acknowledgement of what was both gained and lost in this period, and I learned alon I taught this book for the first time this semester in my Intro to Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies course—would absolutely teach chapters 1 & 3 again in future semesters. Cobble’s encompassing narrative does a great job of filling in the “trough” of history after feminism’s first wave, clearly characterizing the major groups, their goals, contentions, and key events of the period. I appreciated her fairly even acknowledgement of what was both gained and lost in this period, and I learned alongside my students. Henry, too, does a great job of presenting the unique changes in focus and organization instituted by the third wave, while also giving unbiased criticisms of some aspects of the movement. This chapter is great for Gen Z readers who missed this recent history and its contexts, as it provides a useful setup to our current moment. Gordon’s chapter falls short of being able to sufficiently distance itself from her own apparent roots in second-wave feminism. While the text is informative about particular events in the period, the tone is often apologetic or defensive and demonstrates much of the racial and sexual blindnesses for which the second wave is known (i.e. the movement wasn’t exclusive of people of color, it just *felt* exclusive because it had a white agenda; Friedan wasn’t *really* homophobic, and besides, it doesn’t matter if she was because *the movement* wasn’t; etc. etc.). The chapter also engages in the dangerous practice of creating lineages from feminism to other social movements of the near history, which suggests an awkward indebtedness and narrowness of understanding the richness of these other movements, which are only tangentially discussed. Overall, I highly recommend 2/3 of this book—and it isn’t as if you can’t still learn from the other 1/3 as long as you’re aware of its limitations. If you’re interested in the 20th century and a better understanding of its social movements, you’ll find this history engaging and informative.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kvebak

    Feminism is an often misunderstood and devalued movement that conjures up images of man-hating women irrationally advocating for rights they already possess. The educated public certainly does not believe such negative images of feminism, but most are ill-informed and can hardly grasp the extent to which women have played in a vast array of movements while simultaneously advocating for equality for women. Rarely is the impact of women adequately addressed in the study of U.S. History. The author Feminism is an often misunderstood and devalued movement that conjures up images of man-hating women irrationally advocating for rights they already possess. The educated public certainly does not believe such negative images of feminism, but most are ill-informed and can hardly grasp the extent to which women have played in a vast array of movements while simultaneously advocating for equality for women. Rarely is the impact of women adequately addressed in the study of U.S. History. The authors of Feminism Unfinished hope to rectify the lack of understanding of the feminist movements by showing the reader how it has been integral in broader social movements throughout the last one-hundred years of U.S. History. Feminism Unfinished is written by three women who are well-respected in the field of women’s studies. The authors are Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry. Each of these women write one of the three chapters in this book which correlate with a period of time and a type of movement for women in America. Dorothy Sue Cobble writes the first chapter which covers the years between 1920 -1960 detailing work done by women specifically focusing on economic fairness and civil rights. Cobble is a distinguished professor at Rutgers University in the departments of Labor Studies and History and is the author of Dishing it Out: Waitresses and their Unions in the Twentieth Century. Her expertise in labor studies is showcased in this chapter as her it focuses on women’s role in labor and the creation of unions and several women’s organizations searching for equality. Linda Gordon is a professor in Humanities and History at New York University and the author of Women’s Body, Women’s Right which is largely considered the definitive history of birth control politics in the United States. She also writes Chapter Two which spans the years from 1960-1980 chronicling the activism of women fighting for equality and freedom. Essential to this struggle is the fight for women’s sexual and reproductive freedoms, while gaining access to higher education and more economic opportunities. Astrid Henry is a professor in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies program at Grinnell College and is the author of Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict and Third Wave Feminism. Chapter Three explains the years from 1980 to the present and looks at feminism in an age where women have grown up with many of the freedoms previously fought for and their reaction to the realization of persistent gender inequality. Each of these women clearly brings a distinct set of knowledge to each of their respective chapters in this book and impressively manages to share a similar voice throughout the book. If they had not credited each other with the writing of their separate chapters it would be difficult to tell where one finishes writing and the others begin. The authors of this book also seem to know their audience well. Clearly this book is meant for academia and much can be learned by even the most educated in women’s studies. The main audience for this book is undergraduate level college students who may come into school with preconceived notions of what is feminism. This book takes the ideas and concepts to the reader and introduces them in a way which is both entertaining, instructional, and non-threatening. This is not a book which will glamorize a few key figures within the social movement but instead the writers of this book “Hope to inspire readers to learn about and to honor those who constructed new opportunities” (xviii). One of the ways they do this is by attacking six myths related to feminism: 1) that feminism is predominantly encompassing upper-middle-class white women, 2) all women are the same, 3)progress has been steadily upward, 4) feminism is only for women, 5) power for women is always a victory, and 6) feminists are humorless and sexless reformers. Upper-middle-class white women have often been at the forefront of women’s movements, and they are hardly the only voice for women. Cobble introduces us to Myra Wolfgang who helped to introduce strikes by women workers in Woolworth stores throughout the country. She uses the term “social justice feminists” because women like Myra were using the social movements of their day to promote further equality for women both economically and socially. Cobble shatters the myth that only upper-middle-class women were involved in these movements or even leading them. She also demonstrates that here that not all women were the same and they used these movements for their own individual goals. Linda Gordon further emphasizes the point by demonstrating the desire for the Marxist feminist to separate themselves from socialist feminists in her chapter. She also shines a light on the National Organization for, not of, Women, which allowed for many men to join and participate which goes against the myth of feminism being only a woman’s movement. All three authors show how women had relationships with men that demonstrates they obviously were not man-haters. What is particularly enjoyable in this book is some of the amusing anecdotes provide evidence showing how women were far from humorless. For example, female students who had children and were fighting for some kind of daycare from the university staged a sit in with the president of the university. When the president left his office ignoring their demand the women gave their children crayons with no paper and instructed the secretaries to inform the president, not surprisingly this got the attention of the president. If the goal of Feminism Unfinished is to inspire the reader to “...learn about and to honor those who constructed the new opportunities” (xviii). They should know they have achieved their goal. The book is inviting, entertaining, and informative. Surely this book will have a place in college classrooms for a long time to come.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Duax

    I enjoyed this text. I felt the first section was rather slow, but after that, I really enjoyed reading about the history of feminism during the women's lib movement and the third-wave feminists. I particularly enjoyed the third-wave portion because that connected me to feminists of today and gave recognition to all the work we are doing. I enjoyed this text. I felt the first section was rather slow, but after that, I really enjoyed reading about the history of feminism during the women's lib movement and the third-wave feminists. I particularly enjoyed the third-wave portion because that connected me to feminists of today and gave recognition to all the work we are doing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    Great primer on women's movements 1920 to today but somehow not a very compelling read. Not sure why because I was riled up by the subject matter and each author focused on individuals to personalize the story. I still found myself counting pages to get through this short book. Great primer on women's movements 1920 to today but somehow not a very compelling read. Not sure why because I was riled up by the subject matter and each author focused on individuals to personalize the story. I still found myself counting pages to get through this short book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maura Fortino

    A pretty good overview of the history of feminism. I think the authors did a good job covering a lot of ground in a short amount of space.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Crys

    4.5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jehnie

    A good read. It helped fill in gaps in my American history knowledge and introduced individuals who don't always make the short list of "important feminists." A good read. It helped fill in gaps in my American history knowledge and introduced individuals who don't always make the short list of "important feminists."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peter Parris

    This was a nice survey of the Feminist Movement from the 20’s to today. Lots of names and sources I was previously unaware of. Well worth anyone’s time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nikki M

    super quick comprehensive history of womens movements. for three old white ladies they do a great job of capturing the diversity of thought that existed throughout the feminist movements.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    This book title came up during a search for other related topics discussing women’s rights and social justice movements in the US. The authors, all scholars and academics present an overview of various Women’s Movements since the 1920’s. The broad brush approach (Textbook?) aims to confront biases of current "corporate feminist philosophy". Women from working class backgrounds in the first half of the 20th century organized and led strikes, introduced legislation, and held important positions in This book title came up during a search for other related topics discussing women’s rights and social justice movements in the US. The authors, all scholars and academics present an overview of various Women’s Movements since the 1920’s. The broad brush approach (Textbook?) aims to confront biases of current "corporate feminist philosophy". Women from working class backgrounds in the first half of the 20th century organized and led strikes, introduced legislation, and held important positions in national as well as governmental social justice organizations. Activism particularly exposing pervasive sex bias wage discrimination, and working for reforms necessary to support working women across the labor markets. The conscious raising groups of the 60s and 70s helped women, particularly those from middle classes, to question gender and male dominance in all aspects of life. The 3rd wave of feminism in the 1990s and beyond, propose that through the past 100 years, women of color, women from various social and economic backgrounds, pushed forward agendas demanding change due in wages, working conditions, social justice, reproductive rights, etc. The three chapters could be considered lengthy essays synthesizing many subject related resource publications emphasizing women as essential leaders of social justice movements in a continuum. Their work relative and indispensable to the concurrent social movements of their time period; Women’s Suffrage, the Great Depression, WWII, Civil Rights, anti-war (Vietnam), LGBTQ rights, immigration, global feminism.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joe Robles

    An excellent read, that offers a concise history of the feminist movement in America since suffrage. As anyone who lives partly online can attest feminism's work is definitely not finished. sexist comments abound in discussion boards and any woman who dares say something questioning the status quo, even if the facts are on her side, can get death and rape threats. The fact that many of us assumed birth control was a settled issue shows that feminism is still needed. Finally, that many women don' An excellent read, that offers a concise history of the feminist movement in America since suffrage. As anyone who lives partly online can attest feminism's work is definitely not finished. sexist comments abound in discussion boards and any woman who dares say something questioning the status quo, even if the facts are on her side, can get death and rape threats. The fact that many of us assumed birth control was a settled issue shows that feminism is still needed. Finally, that many women don't believe they need feminism, or that it is a bad word, shows how important this book is. This is a book that should be read, shared, and discussed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James

    A rich and diverse primer to the things you need to know about feminism. I'm biased because I took a couple of classes from Prof. Henry, but I haven't seen such a concise, colorful, and useful description of the state of modern feminism as in her section of this book. It's hard to do new things with the second wave, so I don't have much to say about the second section. The first section by Cobble is incredible though; the period between 1920 and 1964 deserves so much more attention and Cobble do A rich and diverse primer to the things you need to know about feminism. I'm biased because I took a couple of classes from Prof. Henry, but I haven't seen such a concise, colorful, and useful description of the state of modern feminism as in her section of this book. It's hard to do new things with the second wave, so I don't have much to say about the second section. The first section by Cobble is incredible though; the period between 1920 and 1964 deserves so much more attention and Cobble does an amazing job with it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    "Short" is a very apt description for this survey of mid to late 20th century American women's movements. I liked the fact that it covered the mid-century period between first wave suffragists and second wave 1960s and 1970s feminists, showing that feminism never died, it just took a different form. However, the book was too short to go into any depth on any subject, more of an appetite whetter. It wasn't a bad primer, and the "Selected Sources" is possibly turning into a personal reading list. B "Short" is a very apt description for this survey of mid to late 20th century American women's movements. I liked the fact that it covered the mid-century period between first wave suffragists and second wave 1960s and 1970s feminists, showing that feminism never died, it just took a different form. However, the book was too short to go into any depth on any subject, more of an appetite whetter. It wasn't a bad primer, and the "Selected Sources" is possibly turning into a personal reading list. Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 | Task 19: Nonfiction book about feminism

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    Perhaps not as surprising as the cover would lead you to believe, but this book gives a great overview of women's movement history, with a focus on the players that aren't as frequently discussed. I would recommend it to anyone hoping to learn more about how feminism has been shaped over the 20th century (with some spillover into the surrounding centuries). Perhaps not as surprising as the cover would lead you to believe, but this book gives a great overview of women's movement history, with a focus on the players that aren't as frequently discussed. I would recommend it to anyone hoping to learn more about how feminism has been shaped over the 20th century (with some spillover into the surrounding centuries).

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