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No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women [Kindle Edition]

Estelle Freedman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Repeatedly declared dead by the media, the women’s movement has never been as vibrant as it is today. Indeed as Stanford professor and award-winning author Estelle B. Freedman argues in her compelling new book, feminism has reached a critical momentum from which there is no turning back. A truly global movement, as vital and dynamic in the developing world as it is in the West, feminism has helped women achieve authority in politics, sports, and business, and has mobilized public concern for once-taboo issues like rape, domestic violence, and breast cancer. And yet much work remains before women attain real equality. In this fascinating book, Freedman examines the historical forces that have fueled the feminist movement over the past two hundred years–and explores how women today are looking to feminism for new approaches to issues of work, family, sexuality, and creativity.

Freedman begins with an incisive analysis of what feminism means and why it took root in western Europe and the United States at the end of the eighteenth century. The rationalist, humanistic philosophy of the Enlightenment, which ignited the American Revolution, also sparked feminist politics, inspiring such pioneers as Mary Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony. Race has always been as important as gender in defining feminism, and Freedman traces the intricate ties between women’s rights and abolitionism in the United States in the years before the Civil War and the long tradition of radical women of color, stretching back to the impassioned rhetoric of Sojourner Truth.

As industrialism and democratic politics spread after World War II, feminist politics gained momentum and sophistication throughout the world. Their impact began to be felt in every aspect of society–from the workplace to the chambers of government to relations between the sexes. Because of feminism, Freedman points out, the line between the personal and the political has blurred, or disappeared, and issues once considered “merely” private–abortion, sexual violence, homosexuality, reproductive health, beauty and body image–have entered the public arena as subjects of fierce, ongoing debate.

Freedman combines a scholar’s meticulous research with a social critic’s keen eye. Sweeping in scope, searching in its analysis, global in its perspective, No Turning Back will stand as a defining text in one of the most important social movements of all time.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

In the preface to her engaging narrative history of feminism, No Turning Back, Estelle Freedman thanks a woman we should all thank, someone who asked her to recommend one book that best presented feminist scholarship to date. Realizing that her only suggestions would require the woman to read extensively across a range of disciplines, Freedman set out to provide that book herself. The result is an expansive but eminently readable history of feminism, its political roots and objectives, and the case for its centrality to the future of women.

While displaying an in-depth knowledge of her field in discussing women's rights, work, and the more recent history of women's political strategies, Freedman also demonstrates a willingness to engage in critical thinking beyond her own sphere and range; she explores subjects ranging from the development of labor and social roles across centuries and cultures to the ways in which race, class, and other social hierarchies inform and define different "feminisms." Acknowledging that her book does not "tell a single, unified history of revolutionary triumph," Freedman examines issues related to politics, economics, race, relationships, health, sexuality, and violence within the context of feminist history. Though it could have been a dry polemic, No Turning Back is, instead, an enthusiastic look at how and why feminist ideas have remained a part of the political landscape since their emergence. Freedman not only recognizes the complex processes of adaptation and redefinition that feminism has undergone, but proposes that this malleability is what has enabled the movement to withstand the test of time. For an obviously impassioned (but still well-reasoned and solidly supported) presentation of the story thus far, Freedman's answer to this book's instigator should now be an easy one. --S. Ketchum

From Library Journal

Stanford historian Freedman (Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America) offers a comprehensive, accessible synthesis of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship, placing feminism in a global, historical framework. Freedman begins with theories of the emergence and diversification of patriarchy, outlining the ways that urbanization, colonialism, capitalism, and industrialization have intensified gender segregation and gender, race, and class hierarchies. Women's resistance to male oppression also takes many forms specific to national identity, ethnicity, and class. As Freedman points out, feminism appeared after 1800 in Europe and North America, when capitalism and republicanism emerged, creating "both the need for feminism and the means to sustain it." But while feminism was already an international movement by 1900, after 1970 it became pervasive, and Freedman's discussion encompasses not only national and cultural differences but also feminism's expression in the multiplicity of women's activities, ranging from waged work to reproduction to artistic creation. As women's political movements define much of the global agenda for the 21st century, Freedman concludes, "the quest for universal recognition of women's equal worth is not likely to be reversed." Recommended for all libraries. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1106 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUACX2
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,543 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Freedman has managed to write a history and a survey of global feminism that is at once accessible, activist and academic.

The compact size and the colorful comic-inspired cover design of the trade paperback edition bely its serious scope. It is truly comprehensive, opening with a powerful argument for feminism (lingering on the term's ever-troubled, never-popular nature), proceeding through the history of various feminisms, marching on through topics as diverse as the impact of globalization on female laborers in the developing world to contrasting feminist opinions on the agency of sex workers. While the focus is primarily on the U.S., the global perspective does comes through. She manages to tone down the usual prominence of European and Euro-American influences while elevating the profile and contributions of feminists throughout the world. For the global sections, examples are drawn as readily from China and West Africa as from the United States. Freedman raises the bar for creating a feminist narrative that is continually mindful of the influences of class, race and culture as well as gender concerns.

I recommend this book for committed feminists, those lamenting the so-called `death of feminism,' and for closet feminists who are bothered by the f-word.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to feminism book but not earthshattering June 10, 2003
By A Customer
I think this book would be a great present for any independent high school/college-aged woman in your life who is starting to wonder if "feminist" is a dirty word.
If you're unfamiliar with the history of the feminist movement in the U.S., or even what feminism means, this is a great book for you. Professor Freedman is an engaging writer who doesn't get bogged down in academic gibberish, nor does she insult your intelligence. Not surprisingly, Freedman teaches an "Intro to Feminism" course at Stanford, and therefore if you've taken such a class in the past 15 years, much of the material may seem quite familiar.
Her book takes readers on a whirlwind tour of feminism in the United States. She makes an effort to not fall victim to the first wave feminist tendency of assuming that all women in the U.S. are upper middle class, heterosexual, and white, yet touches only briefly on international feminism and the future of women outside of the United States. While this is understandable, as the book would otherwise be 1000 pages long, perhaps a title clarifying that it is focused on the U.S. would be helpful.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Turning Back Is Right. January 26, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I initially read this book a few years ago and enjoyed reading it thoroughly! This book is packed with plenty of information about the history of feminism and the future of women living around the world. This book discusses such topics as "gender and power", "gender and violence", "women's rights", "Reproduction: The Politics of Choice", the "economic gender gap", just to name a few of the topics explored and discussed by the author.

I liked reading this book because I felt it was very well written and researched. "No Turning Back" provides the foundational knowledge for further exploration of feminism. I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you want to learn the basics of feminism!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book January 13, 2006
Estelle Freedman's writing is coherent, concise and interesting. I found everything especially the information about international feminist movements very exciting. I have recommended this book to everyone I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Informative Book April 4, 2012
By review
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This is truly a comprehensive, informative book. It teaches the beginners everything related to feminism in easy comprehensive language. It tackles all subjects related to feminism the history of various feminisms, antifeminism, post feminism, the impact of globalization on feminism and female laborers in the developing world. The book also tackles feminism in the U.S. the book also traces the influences of gender, class, race and culture and how they are interrelated. It is very helpful for beginner reseachers. It is worth buying and reading it.
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Estelle Freedman is a highly regarded historian who teaches at Stanford. She has been involved with feminism and women’s history since she was in college in the 1970s. In this book she brings together a wide variety of information about women and the various ideas and actions of those who have fought against men’s privileged positions around the globe. As an historian, she structures her account chronologically, starting with women before the emergence of feminism. Then she focuses on the various issues with which feminists have become involved in the USA and globally.

What I found so impressive about Freedman’s book was the way in which she combined so much information and so many different types of feminism into a coherent narrative. She presents feminism as always re-defining itself, and she explains the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches without rejecting any of them. For her, feminism is big enough that conflicts among feminists can be understood and accepted, not demonized as they have often been in the past.
Read more on my blog: [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! February 18, 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a woman who swore she would never wear the label "feminist" - I have to say that I am not only willing but proud to call myself a feminist. While this may not be earth shattering or an intellectual history (as another review mentions), this is a great place to start or even expand upon one's understanding of feminism. This book spoke to every aspect of my life and experience as a woman. It helped continue my healing as a survivor of rape and domestic violence while opening new doors and new possibilities.
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