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Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists Paperback – April 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Compiled by authors Martin (Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters) and Sullivan (Commencement), this volume looks at the catalytic moments when 28 women (and one man) found their way to feminism. Including writers, activists, and educators, contributors provide perspective and personal revelations from all stages of life. Joshunda Sanders, an Austin newspaper reporter, talks about growing up poor and black in "the least desirable place in New York" and how it led to her embrace of "womanist" thought; Indian American writer and educator Mathangi Subramanian describes years of struggle with the feminist "label," navigating the cross-currents of her grandmother's pressure to marry and her mother's enthusiasm for independence (and feminist classics like Susan Estrich's Sex & Power); Martin herself contributes a piece contrasting her own coming-of-age, involving a college visit from Manifesta authors Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, with her mother's: "This wasn't the swishy skirt feminism that my mom had manifested at her once-a-month women's groups. This was contemporary, witty, brash, even a little sexy." With this enervating collection, Martin and Sullivan help continue that modernizing trend.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Courtney E. Martin is the author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and co-author of The Naked Truth, the life story of HIV/AIDS activist Marvelyn Brown. She is a senior correspondent for The American Prospect and the Book Editor of Feministing.com. Martin's work frequently appears in The Christian Science Monitor, Alternet, and Publishers Weekly, among other publications. She has spoken at colleges and conferences throughout the nation and is a frequent commentator on national media, including The O'Reilly Factor, The Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN. J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the best-selling novel Commencement. A Brooklyn-based writer, Sullivan's work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Elle, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, In Style, Men's Vogue, the New York Observer, Tango, and in the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love. Sullivan works in the editorial department of the New York Times. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580052851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052856
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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This is a fascinating anthology, whether you consider yourself a feminist or not, which is an important point. It would be a shame for only self-identified feminist women to read this book, or to assume that it is talking about a singular "feminism." At times, there was a sameness to the stories; many of the writers gained entrée into their feminism via books, some of which were written by fellow contributors. Where I think Click succeeds best is when the click moment happens in another form, to remind us that feminism isn't just for bookworms. Whether it's "Number One Must Have" (about the band Sleater-Kinney), hunting, having an androgynous name ("Winter"), fishnet stockings or engineering, the authors here tackle a wide range of ways feminism and exploring gender affect their lives.

It also brings up some major issues around what "feminism" means and whether the goal of a feminist movement should be to have everyone identify as feminist (which many of the women in the book, as well as their mothers, grapple with--interestingly, I didn't see any pieces where authors grapple with whether their romantic partners identify as feminists, but moms were a sticking point). Co-editor Sullivan writes: "In both word and deed, feminism is something we only really understand after we've been exposed to it, after someone else has taught us what it looks like and how it can help make our lives all the richer." Yet this very point is disputed by many of the authors here, and one I don't agree with. If the personal is political, then women need to look both inward and outward; waiting to be "exposed to" or told what feminism is, I'd posit, is precisely what alienates many women from feminism.
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Format: Paperback
A number of years ago, I had a part-time gig at an elementary school where I taught afterschool classes in art and film classics. One warm June day, it was decided that the kids could spend thirty minutes in the playground. As I watched a scene that was a combination of raw energy and mayhem, I observed a small girl of about eight years old walking away from the three-tiered jungle gym. She was crying. I quickly approached her to find out what the problem was. She pointed to a skinny boy with black hair perched at the pinnacle of the metal bars. He was grinning proudly. She said, "He told me only boys were allowed at the top."

With a mixture of rage and passion that probably seemed out of whack to the full- time teachers watching me, I called him down from his seat of glory and read him the riot act. As he skulked away, I explained in no uncertain terms to the still-shaking girl that she could go anywhere and do anything she pleased. Then I thought to myself, It's the 21st century and nothing has changed.

That story, and other remembrances, came to mind while I was reading the engaging anthology "Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists." Editors Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan have fashioned a book that speaks to how much women who care about feminism have in common. With an ongoing intergenerational dialogue between women who self-identify as feminists, that at times is tinged with a undertone of anger and resentment, these voices remind the reader of a fundamental commonality. The high profile schisms that accompanied the Obama vs. Hillary primary race; older women questioning where younger women stand on their support of abortion rights...These divisions become neutralized and I can envision Rodney King asking, "Can we all get along?
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Format: Paperback
When Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan sent an email asking, "What was the moment that made you a feminist?" they got some passionate and powerful results. Some answers were predictable: listening to "the screech of misogynist lyrics," watching Anita Hill testify against Clarence Thomas, and reading Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Susan Faludi, or Katie Roiphe.

Other discoveries were more nuanced. Jordan Berg Powers, the only male author in the group of 29, wrote, "My mother, I have grown to understand, is my feminist role model, even if she never called herself a feminist." (His essay is called "Cross-Stitch and Soap Operas Following Football.") Powers' mother taught by example. So did the parents of editor J. Courtney Sullivan, whose glamorous mother worked in television and public relations while her father, an attorney, worked from home and took care of the laundry and dinner. Sullivan's mother was too busy carving a unique path to worry about labels.

She was not alone. Many contributors resisted the label although they embraced feminist action. In "I Was an Obnoxious Teenage Feminist," Jessica Valenti recalls that at age 13, she did not consider herself a feminist when she participated in the DC march for reproductive rights. "I don't know that I ever even thought about it. I knew that I believed in the right to abortion, I was all too aware of sexism and I was a superopinionated, loud teenager. Yet identifying as a feminist never occurred to me."

Elisa Albert came to feminism through comedy when she performed the role of Vashti in a middle school Purim play at Temple Emanuel Community Day School of Beverly Hills. She sang "I'm Gonna Wash That King Right Out of My Hair" and the audience ate up her rebellion.
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