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To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism Paperback – October 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Edited and introduced by Walker, journalist, Ms. editor, and coauthor of House and Home: Spirits of the South (Univ. of Washington Pr., 1994), this anthology adds to the growing body of work by and about younger feminists. "An eclectic gathering of folks"?20 activists, academicians, artists?explore the theme of how they define themselves as individuals, against both traditional stereotypes and the feminist ideas and ideals of their parents' generation. bell hooks's "Beauty Laid Bare" discusses the role of material objects in traditional black culture; Naomi Wolf's "Brideland" examines the enduring attraction of the bride image. Other topics include sex in cyberspace, women and aggression, the politics of taking names, feminist hip-hop, how to hold a nonsexist stag party, and the trials of an aspiring corporate attorney. On the whole, it's an energetic and original collection that belongs in most libraries.?Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
Determined to extend the boundaries of feminism to embrace social, political, and economic equality for all humanity, these twenty-one exciting young activists and thinkers recast the concepts of feminism to reflect their own personal experiences and beliefs. Inspired by activist and writer Rebecca Walker, they speak out, challenging many of their assumptions about the women's movement and demanding that readers recognize a new relationship between the personal and the political. Black and white, male and female, gay and straight, they fearlessly describe their liberation from the feminist "ideals" that conflict with the reality of who they are, expose "shocking" secrets, and acknowledge long-hidden accommodations and anomalies. Controversial and provocative, To Be Real is a blueprint for the creation of a new political force.
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Top customer reviews
She wrote in her Introduction to this 1995 collection of essays, “A year before I started this book, my life was like a feminist ghetto. Every decision I made, person I spent time with, word I uttered, had to measure up to an image I had in my mind of what was morally and politically right according to my vision of female empowerment… Curiosity about pornography, attraction to a stable domestic partner… interest in the world of S/M, a love for people who challenged and sometimes flatly opposed my feminist beliefs… for me and my sense of how to make feminist revolution, they represented contradictions that I had no idea how to reconcile. Linked with my desire to be a good feminist was… a deep desire to be accepted, claimed, and loved by a feminist community that included my mother, godmother, aunts, and close friends… Once I offered a face different from the one they expected, I thought the loyalty, the bond of our shared outlook and understanding, would be damaged forever… “ (Pg. xxix-xxx)
She continues. “If the Goddess didn’t work for me, if I didn’t think violence on TV translated into real-life violence, if I didn’t believe in the essential goodness of women’s culture, I thought I might be perceived as betraying ‘The Movement’ rather than celebrating it. I feared that this betrayal… could mean banishment from the community for questioning the status quo. Because feminism has always been so close to home, I worried that I might also be banished from there.” (Pg. xxxi)
She observes, “Young women coming of age today … have a very different vantage point on the world than that of our foremothers… For many of us it seems that to be a feminist in the way that we have seen or understood feminism is to conform to an identity and way of living that doesn’t allow for individuality, complexity, or less than perfect personal histories… We have trouble formulating and perpetuating theories that compartmentalize and divide according to race and gender… For us the lines between Us and Them are often blurred. And as a result we find ourselves seeking to create identities that accommodate ambiguity and multiple personalities…” (Pg. xxxiii) She adds, “My hope is that this book can help us to see how the people in the world who are facing and creating something new and empowering from them are important voices leading us away from divisiveness and dualism… I hope you see these writers as yet another group of pioneers, outlaws who demand to exist whole and intact… an instinct I consider to be the very best legacy of feminism.” (Pg. xxxv)
Gina Dent says in her essay, “In response to ongoing complaints and queries by the white feminist community about the participation of Black women, Black women have made a number of arguments, most of which conclude that while it may not look the same as white feminism (the Feminism that gets to wear a capital ‘F’), and while it may not always call itself feminism, Black feminism does indeed represent a parallel movement toward women’s emancipation. Black feminism, or ‘womanism’ … has never based itself on a self-conscious description of particular movements or strategies.” (Pg. 62)
She asks, “how and when did feminism become a religion? When did we begin to proselytize, on the basis of this moral obligation we have, to save?” (Pg. 69) She adds, “I take … a lesson for feminism: if we continue to operate in it as if it is a religion, we lose our ability to translate its pleasures and joys to future generations, and we risk its dissolution in the name of religious freedom.” (Pg. 74)
Min Jin Lee notes, “Lately, I have been contemplating the sheer irony of my foresisters demanding the right to get on the track and then for me to realize how brutal it is for me to stay on it when you want other things, too, like children, for one. And I hear my girlfriends asking themselves and I ask myself, why stick it out? … why should I give up having children or perhaps, worse, watch another woman raise them?... Have we eaten our fill of our portion of equal opportunities and are we pushing away our plates?” (Pg. 100)
This book also includes a Foreword by Gloria Steinem (Rebecca Walker’s godmother, it should be noted), essays by Naomi Wolf and bell hooks, and an Afterword by Angela Davis.
This is an interesting collection of essays that will be of great interest to anyone interested in the “Third Wave” of the Women’s Movement, or just wants to know what some young feminists are thinking.
Because Davis had once pointedly lectured both the women's movement and mainstream society about the dangers of making presumptions (and subsequently allowing those preconcieved notions to guide your own politics) I had hoped she (more than any other second waver name-dropped in this project) would also be aware of the dangers from ageism.
My heart consequently fell as I realizes she was never actually interested in 'bridging' or mentoring with my generation of feminist activist/theorists, but simply touting her own horn about how great she was, and how by implication we would somehow never be able to match up. Ironically, the multipronged social justice strategies she freely champions in other settings become impossible with her own condescending view of 'feminist activism' since a single generation of activists will not live forever, and younger ones might provide critical insights for victory (that is assuming they were allowed to speak in meaningful ways, and were listened to).
No, Davis might not like everything in exactly the format that is said by the newer theorists, but then the proverbial million dollar question begs: Why lend your name and words to something you don't particularly care for at all anyways?
Editor Walker (daughter of Alice Walker) bears some responsibilty for this literary mess since she seems to have culled 'famous feminists' from her mother's rolodex without pondering if they would actually treat herself or the audience as whole people, instead of annoying interlopers who are threatining 'other's' feminist movement.
Such, a shame too because this book really could have been a huge breakthrough with the correct editing.