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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Paths to Many Feminisms, from Music to Engineering to Mothers to Fishnets to Anita Hill
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...
Published on April 27, 2010 by Rachel Kramer Bussel

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3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to love it...
somehow I didn't.Maybe it just made me feel kind of old because I had my "clicks" while they were playing in the sandbox and stuff. More like tossed-off blog posts than essays in many places. Thoughtful and worth the read in most places, but not all that fresh and new if you've spent time around the feminist blogosphere.
Published on May 28, 2012 by E. Jahneke


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Paths to Many Feminisms, from Music to Engineering to Mothers to Fishnets to Anita Hill, April 27, 2010
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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.

Alissa Quart's "I Married a War Correspondent" is a fascinating look at the evolution of her relationship and her feeling that the topics she covers as a journalist were "lesser" (and were treated with less acclaim) than her fiance's acts of daring. In Joshunda Sanders' "'What's the Female Version of a Hustler?': Womanist Training for a Bronx Nerd" and Mathangi Subramanian's "The Brown Girl's Guide to Labels," each author highlights the ways "feminism" has been tied to a white women's movement, and how they have alternately rejected, embraced and negotiated with the label and what it means to them. Li Sydney Cornfeld and Karen Pittelman offer unique tales, the former of the gender implications of an ADHD diagnosis, the latter about dissolving her $3 million trust fund to work for social change.

There are moments here that feel a little too much like cheerleading for feminism without actually defining it precisely. The best pieces show how issues of gender, along with race, class and sexual orientation, are viewed and how a change in that viewpoint can propel action and enlightenment. Sometimes, there really is a click, such as in Marta L. Sanchex's piece: "At Spelman, I became a women's studies major. Suddenly, the entire world made sense. I stopped feeling like an alien visiting a strange planet." She backs this up without resorting to clichés, but by calling forth the spirits of her ancestors, who each gave her a different way of embracing the world. Many authors reference previous generations, whether the Second Wave or their parents (quite starkly in Sophie Pollitt-Cohen's piece, when she's assigned to read something her mother, Katha Pollitt, wrote at Wesleyan), but this is not an Us vs. Them type of book, thankfully. Rather, it's one that, at its best, looks at the ways feminism has impacted our personal and familial relationships, education, job opportunities, religious choices and identities.

Most of all what I got out of Click is that what happens after the "click" moment is perhaps more important than what happens before or during it. How people grapple with even defining feminism, rather than simply embracing another person's version of feminism, is what the heart of this book is about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, August 11, 2010
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?"

Reading "Click" will help one generation to understand and appreciate what experiences have informed another group of women--through personal histories other than their own. The contributors range in age from 18 to 41. As someone who is in the middle of a wave, the stories resonated for me reigniting my anger, evoking compassion, and reminding me of the days when I wondered if I were alone in thinking that something outside of me--in the culture-was wrong.

When I read Miriam Zoila Pérez's contribution, which painted a picture of her political arguments with her "conservative" father, it made me vividly recall an afternoon when I argued with my parents about Marilyn French's best seller, "The Women's Room." The intensity of my emotions from that conversation came back to me with absolute clarity.

What makes Click such a great read is that all of the offerings bring something different to the party. Elisa Albert had me laughing out loud with her deconstruction of the Jewish holiday Purim in her piece, "I'm Gonna Wash That King Right Out of My Hair." Each of the twenty-nine essays has unique insights and observations to share.

Karen Pittelman discusses her realization that "when we bury our stories, we bury one of our greatest political strengths." She writes, "What I love about feminism is the idea that telling the truth about our lives is a radical, transformative act."

In the opening sentence to her essay, Marni Grossman states, "Sometimes it feels as though feminism was my consolation prize for surviving an eating disorder." She points to the tyranny of the societal message "that our value is in our sex appeal," and imparts that "putting down the laxative and picking up Naomi Wolf was the most political act I have ever committed."

As she evolves from questioning if the work of her war correspondent boyfriend is of greater relevance and "more serious in the eyes of the world," Alissa Quart comes to terms with her relationship, which eventually grows into a marriage. Simultaneously, she achieves awareness that her contributions--and the female writers that she emulates--could be "as searing, in their way, as investigating bullets, presidents, and dictators."

Deborah Siegel shares how Anita Hill's "ordeal" was the vehicle that "framed a younger generation's understanding of women, politics, and power." More specifically, it was Siegel's "inauguration to feminist activism" and her eye-opening recognition of the anti-feminist backlash it unleashed.

Raised by parents, aunts, and grandparents who built a foundation for her being "nurtured into feminism," Marta L. Sanchez tells how a rape at age sixteen "instantly made me a feminist." Her belief system was shattered the day that a 22-year-old acquaintance offered her "a ride to church" during Christmas week.

A feminism that "fit" was the moment everything crystallized for Mathangi Subramanian, who authored "The Brown Girl's Guide to Labels." In her second semester of graduate school, Subramanian discovered the work of Chandra Mohanty, "a third world feminist" who deconstructs how "western feminists fought for the right to work, while third world feminists acknowledged that women did most of the world's work, and were...fighting for the right to rest."

Janet Tsai examines the stereotype of being a "nerdy, smart Asian kid" who questions the authenticity of her admission to a "highly selective, innovative, start-up engineers college." Why is the prevailing notion that if the college has achieved a fifty-fifty gender parity, that the women can't possibly be as smart as the men? Tsai ultimately confronts "gender differences in the sciences," and gains understanding on why it triggered doubts about her talents and abilities.

Many of the essays are laced with individual responses to the impact and examples of mothers, and the behaviors that they modeled. In that respect, the reactions reflect how each generation is influenced and shaped by the preceding one.

Ultimately, this volume--that pays homage to the Jane O'Reilly 1971 Ms. magazine story, "The Housewife's Moment of Truth,"--will offer a new source of anecdotal enlightenment to a continuum of women. How fortuitous it will be if it sparks an acknowledgment of the inherent connection between everyone's struggles.

Hopefully, "Click" will fall into the hands of girls growing into womanhood, including the one from the playground who was informed, all too early, of her alleged limitations.

This article originally appeared on the website [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Makes a Feminist Who She Is, July 30, 2010
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. In "The Right Pitch," Colleen Lutz Clemens became a feminist "on the marching band field." Courtney E. Martin declared, "...fishnet stockings made me a feminist" in "Not My Mother's Hose."

Feminism can be an asset, an attribute, a cause or a calling. It can even be a curse, depending on your point of view. It certainly shaped the opinions of these bright, young writers. The authors cross cultures, socio-economic classes, and sexual orientations, and each one shares her unique awakening. Often they reverse earlier opinions or redefine justice. Sometimes they stumble into their insights. Other times insights barrel into them. I loved each author's unique voice and was especially delighted to find that Li Sydney Cornfield, Marni Grossman, and Joshunda Sanders are all graduates of my alma mater, Vassar College. The way they grappled with complexities made me proud.

What do you have in common with these writers? How do you differ? Could your experiences have influenced theirs? They freely admit that an earlier wave of feminists shaped their perceptions and experience. When feminism clicks there is no going back.

by B. Lynn Goodwin
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Essays, Just Need more Diversity, September 1, 2010
This is a good book of short essays by various women (and one male) about the moment they realized they were feminists. For the most part, this means the moment they realized there were gendered inequalities in the world that were not acceptable. The essays are varied and show a range of experiences. The essays also show how feminism has evolved from the 60's and 70's to the 2000's.

The collection makes for a quick, easy to read journey through many peoples' lives. The only part that got on my nerves were the biographies in the back of the book. After reading all these essays on people being individuals and understanding the issues with gender inequality, I found that most of the writers ended up married or coupled in a heterosexual relationship. Most biographies made sure to mention the husband and kids they each had. For me, this was disappointing, as each women still defined a significant part of her life by a man. In addition, it doesn't seem many gay writers were included and if they were, they kept that status hidden. A bit more diversity in the writers would have been welcome.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Between Kurt Cobain and ADHD, November 23, 2010
This anthology of writings by (mostly) women from my generation of feminist theorists explains how and why we came to feminism. Women already had the vote and grew up the beneficiaries of birth control/abortion liberalization and Title IX. So it was easy to believe that all the battles had been won, right--WRONG!!

The power of this collection (and my generation's experience with feminism) comes from understanding the intersectionality of our own unique experiences. We have to speak for ourselves and on our own turf.

Li Sydney Cornfeld wrote about problems encountered both because of her learning disability and being female. Myself having disabilities and being female, I appreciated this particular essay's inclusion. It echoed many of the experiences which friends and I shared about our own learning disabilities. But it still did not exactly mimic my own personal experiences; the parents who overprotected a daughter, who already understood the rules of special education but who would not immediately adapt to a world with the ADA (and ironically) more rights and freedoms laid out for her. I thought about this legal-social paradox while reading her essay and wanting 'something more' included in the pages.

Since he was one of the voices helping us initially understand feminism, it is very appropriate that Rachel Shukertwrites about the conflicted feelings which so many of us had upon learning of Kurt Cobain's death. Like our parents (and grandparents) when Kennedy was shot, we felt someone and something very special was taken away. Feminism is supposed to be about supporting women, but some people initially wanted to blame Courtney for the tragedy. We could not bring ourselves to openly admit that Cobain himself had problems. She believes the ease with which society (including the 'alternative' culture with which so many of us were infatuated with) initially critiqued Courtney demonstrates how ingrained the misogyny Cobain had spoken out against in his life is throughout society. Relieving this time now as an adult is still extremely sad, but I better understand the pain of loosing a loved one.

And Olessa Pindak also contributes a good essay about how the same guys who once defaced the campus women's center in protest ultimately grew up to learn from the error of this mistake. Sitting on the board of feminist organizations and married to strong women, they are not the same men they once were. As they grow, people do change and mature. We cannot create the society which we claim to want when we do not recognize this process of change actually occuring.

The essays in this book are not particularly long or complicated. It's good lesiure reading. There is no index so it's probally not a good research book. But it does have a mix of pop culture and social science information inside.
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5.0 out of 5 stars but have recommended it on my Twitter, July 14, 2014
By 
J. Morris (FT LEONARDWOOD, MO USA) - See all my reviews
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I am still reading it, but have recommended it on my Twitter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, January 10, 2013
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I absolutely loved this book. Having a collection of different stories allowed the reader to examine feminism and what it means from several different viewpoints, making it both interesting and dynamic. Great as an introduction to feminism, but also equally fun as a review of the subject in a fresh way. Definitely not a dry, academic read - it's personal, inspiring, and full of 'me too!' moments.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to love it..., May 28, 2012
By 
E. Jahneke (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
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somehow I didn't.Maybe it just made me feel kind of old because I had my "clicks" while they were playing in the sandbox and stuff. More like tossed-off blog posts than essays in many places. Thoughtful and worth the read in most places, but not all that fresh and new if you've spent time around the feminist blogosphere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars From my feminist perspective, April 15, 2011
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It's always fascinating to hear how other people become aware of the power structure in this country and around the world. The underlying premise for inequality in gender, sexuality, race, etc. is power and the benefits being the power holder can be. As a white, straight woman in the U.S., I recognize the benefits of my race and sexuality. Yet I am also cognizant of the (often subtle, sometimes glaring) disadvantages of my gender. I digress.

This is a great collection of stories from women whose feminist tendencies span the spectrum from radical to just awakening. For those who fall in between, the stories in this book make for an inspiring read that gives depth to a term that often feels dated or disconnected.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING, October 29, 2010
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An amazing book. One of the best I've read in a long time. A must read.
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Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists
Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists by J. Courtney Sullivan (Paperback - January 21, 2013)
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