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The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America, Revised Edition Paperback – December 26, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0140097191 ISBN-10: 0140097198 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140097198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140097191
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For anyone who wants a thorough introduction to the modern American women's movement, this is it: a rousing story of the revolution by a history professor who participated in its struggles. Ruth Rosen introduces her book by reminding readers of discriminatory practices that were common in pre-1960s America: "Harvard's Lamont Library was off-limits to women for fear they would distract male students. Newspaper ads separated jobs by sex; bars often refused to serve women; some states even excluded women from jury duty; no women ran big corporations or universities, worked as firefighters or police officers." She then proceeds to delineate the changes that make such discrimination seem unthinkable today. Her research takes in popular books, magazines, newspaper articles and television, the details of politics and law, and the individual liberation stories of not only famous feminists and thinkers but many lesser-known women as well.

By the end of the 1970s, there are not only legal abortions, Title IX, and more women than men at American universities but letters like the following submitted to Ms. magazine: "One day last week, I pulled up to a four-way stop in my taxi," writes Jill Wood. "At one of the stop signs sat a police officer in a cruiser, and at the third, a telephone installer in a van. What made the occasion memorable was the fact that all three of us were women. We celebrated with much joyful laughter." Yet, says Rosen, this is only the beginning of the struggle for human rights. The World Split Open should serve to galvanize the energies of a new generation of women and men. --Maria Dolan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Highlighting the dramatic changes in culture and attitudes brought about by the women's movement in the 1960s and '70s, Rosen details the rebirth of feminism, from the liberalism of NOW through women's liberation, which grew out of the civil rights movement. Her focus is on the "hidden injuries of sex" and how what had been construed as "personal" problems--abortion, compulsory heterosexuality, rape and sexual violence, prostitution and pornography--became political issues. She also sketches the political splits and crises--such as the Redstockings' attack on Gloria Steinem and FBI infiltration--that wrought havoc in the movement as the backlash against legal abortion and the ERA was gathering steam. Finally, Rosen outlines how, even as feminism was proliferating throughout the country among such groups as older women and trade union women and in educational and religious institutions, it was also becoming diluted by what she terms consumer feminism (selling goods and services to promote liberation) and therapeutic feminism, which turned the political back into the personal. A history professor at the University of California-Davis, Rosen often focuses on groups sometimes left out of other accounts, like women who grew up in left-wing homes in the 1940s and '50s and women of color. Because her narrative moves decade by decade, some subjects, like abortion, are presented in a scattered manner. But the clear chronology and extensive bibliography make this volume an excellent teaching tool that is accessible and broad enough to appeal to general readers as well. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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If you are a woman in America, this is the story of your past.
Lucinda Eggert
Ruth Rosen tells a detailed and fascinating narrative of a struggle that still continues.
Gregory Maxwell
This is a book to read now, and keep on your referrence shelf.
Celeste L. MacLeod

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Tom Morson on February 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Rosen, a historian, professor, activist and journalist brings the wisdoms of her personal and professional experiences to bear upon the modern Women's Movement. The result is a refreshing, candid, almost conversational accounting and chronicle, as well as an astute and careful analysis of the many impacts and consequences of the movement for American life. The numerous interviews with both known and unknown leaders of the movement are captured with such precision that at times you feel you are there. When Rosen then moves toward grounding these voices in the larger social-cultural-political contexts of the times, we begin to really experience the extent and depth of the Movement not only for American life but for life as we know it.
This is a must read for anyone wanting to better understand not only the modern Women's Movement, but themselves. As a psychotherapist, educator and social worker at the University of Michigan, I work daily with those struggling with their roles and identities. I think this is an excellent resource for helping women (and men) understand their personal struggles in context, which as Rosen's title so aptly puts it, makes "The World Split Open", and thus the personal truly political.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Okie Prof on September 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Finally, we have a book to make the women's movement make sense for those too young, too unaware, or too biased to appreciate its enormous impact on America. Rosen's style is approachable without losing its analytical rigor. Her research brilliantly documents the movement's factions, "leaders," victories, failures,and issues. While _Split Open_ is a tour-de-force through the 1970s, I found its treatment of the anti-feminist backlash too superficial - although, unlike one reviewer here, I would not chracterize this as bias, so much as a decision to remain focused on the movement rather than its detractors.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Celeste L. MacLeod on March 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
The myth is that the American women's movement was the domain of upper-echelon white women who wanted it all--exciting sex, prestigious careers, brilliant children they didn't have to take care of--and that working women, especially those of color, rejected it as irrelelvant to their lives. In fact, as Ruth Rosen's excellent book shows, women from many walks of life took part in a multi-faceted movement that has brought remarkable changes and helped all women.
This book about women also describes the sweep of US social movements, including civil rights, over the past 50 years. I found the chapters tracing the rise and fall of the New Left in the 1960s fascinating. It's well known that women who went south to help with voter-registration drives were put down by their male co-workers. Less known is the influence on them of black women activists they met there. Seeing "the remarkable clout black women wielded in their churches and civic organizations," white women later used them as role models for grassroots organizing in northern cities. In Students for a Democratic Society, men wrote theoretical papers on how to revamp society and women mimeographed them--and ran the offices, gaining administrative skills. By 1969, says Rosen, the New Left "was in tatters" while the women's movement took off in the 1970s--and is still going strong.
"The World Split Open" gives a comprehensive view of the women's movement, filling in important events that the media ignored in favor of the sensational. For people in other countries, it also provides a well-researched, readable account of American movements for social justice over the past half-century, centered around the experiences of women. This is a book to read now, and keep on your referrence shelf.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
I lived through this era, but I was a young man and had no idea of the amazing changes the women's movement caused. Now I understand the women in my life much better. I recommend this book to all men who want to understand how the world has changed and how they fit into it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie on January 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book explores the history of the women's movement in the 20th century. Although many books have been written on the first wave of feminism, this book deals with the second wave--written by a real pioneer in the field of women's history. The World Split Open shows how rights possessed by women today were almost non-existent less than fifty years ago. Although women gained the right to vote in the early part of the twentieth century, this book shows how far women still had (and still do have) to go. Ruth Rosen is an amazing person (I was a student in her women's history course at UC Davis last year), and I highly recomend this book to those interested in the study of not only women, but the American family as a whole. Further, I challenge anyone who sees "feminists" in a negative light to read this book and thus have their assumptions proven false.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a labor of love, a work so beautifully written, balanced, careful, yet passioante. It is a stunning contribution to the literature on the women's movemnet. Everyone, young and old, should read this to remember where we've been, and to reconsider where we might go.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This was a very enjoyable and interesting read. Although I was an adolescent in the 1960's, it gave me tremendous insight into many of the privileges these courageous women fought for that many of us now take for granted. It was a fascinating eye- opener for me.
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