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No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women
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No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  552 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
“On the situations of women around the world today, this one book provides more illumination and insight than a dozen others combined. . . . Freedman’s survey is a triumph of global scope and informed precision.”
Professor of History, Harvard University

Repeatedly declared dead by the media, the women’s movement has never been as vibrant as it is today. Indeed
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

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I enjoyed this book (between a 3 and 4), although I did find it a little dated. I can't blame the author for that one, obviously, since that's what you get when you write about a movement that's ongoing. (There was also a reference to Benazir Bhutto, which was sad; the book was written fiveish years before she was assasinated.)

I think that this book did some things well - it gave a good overview of the feminist movement throughout the world, historically and currently. There were some deficienci
Sep 07, 2013 Marshall rated it did not like it
This book is a "feminism 101," an introduction and overview of feminist theory and history. It does a good job at that. It beautifully captures the ideology, misandry, history revision, emotional reasoning, ambiguity of terminology, fallacies, urban myths, and emphasis on anecdotes over facts so common in feminism. This book seriously pissed me off, so this is going to be a very long review.

I didn't disagree with everything in this book. There are some serious errors here, which I'll discuss in
Alex Kartelias
Nov 10, 2014 Alex Kartelias rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
Couldn't have picked a better book to learn about feminism:covers a wide range of topics, brings up criticism and statistics, while bringing up a history that is too little known by most people. Even though I've supported equality for women for awhile, I never knew the extent to which women have been and still are suppressed. This book disproves all the assumptions men AND women make about feminism and shows how it's far from being a simple, black and white topic: it involves politics, economics ...more
May 03, 2014 Jackie rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, history
A very readable, comprehensive history of feminism. Includes a huge variety of topics, including but not limited to - the early history of feminism as a movement; abortion, birth control, and sexuality; involvement of women in politics; women in the workforce; the wage gap; how race, class, and sexuality politics intersect with and create different sets of oppressions for women; and gendered violence, one of my own pet issues as I am a survivor of sexual assault. Of course, Freedman's book is on ...more
Anthony Salazar
Feb 23, 2015 Anthony Salazar rated it really liked it
Although the author was a bit redundant with the examples on women suffrage, this novel is a great introduction to women gender studies. No Turning Back clearly defines feminism and exemplifies the struggles that women have faced and continue to face throughout the world.
Jul 31, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
This is a great book to get an overall sense of the feminist movement. It reads like a history book of the 20th century. The style is easy and loaded with examples and quotes. It's a good book to read if you want to put numbers and examples on vague ideas. I will probably use some of the examples in the book in future personal conversations.

It covers the suffragist movement and the change that lead to the 'second-wave':

After 1930, both interracial and interfaith cooperation found a foothold with
Dec 16, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
This is a thorough presentation of the history and development of feminism around the world. The aspect I most appreciated about the book is Freedman's nuanced cultural analyses. She does an excellent job of setting context, discussing the variety of "feminisms" and feminist movements that exist through-out the world, and pointing out the ways in which race, class, and nationality affect women's experiences and perspectives. In fact, from reading this book I gained a new understanding of the way ...more
Margaret Robbins
Mar 16, 2016 Margaret Robbins rated it really liked it
I read this book to help me with my feminist theory comps essay and for my women's studies class. Parts of it were a little bit dry, but overall, I found it helpful. It gave me a better understanding of the history of women's rights and of how female representation in politics, literature, and the arts has evolved over time. Some chapters were more pertinent to my scholarly and personal interests than others, but it was interesting to read. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in female re ...more
Crystal Dawn
Jan 19, 2016 Crystal Dawn marked it as not-to-read



I want to live in a world where both men and women can vote. Work whatever jobs they wish and be payed at the right wages. Where men and women can take leave to spend time with their babies and children. Where violence against men is taken seriously instead of laughed at because he was 'hit by a girl'. I want to live in a gender equal world, but not the one this book promotes.

This isn't fixing the problem, it's just flipping the scales. Yes, our ancestors played the game differently and
Jul 08, 2016 JaNel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: interest, history
I kept thinking I'd just skim, but then I'd be drawn in to this paradigm that all of this should be obvious, but it isn't. It's vital that this awareness to stay vigilant and proactive remain in the forefront of the world's to-do list.

p. 7 Why we need feminism today:
-"worth" does not equal "equality" Worth means that a woman's experience is just as valid as a man's (it's not a goal to be "equal" or the same to a man's experience as if that's the standard
-most societies privelge men as a group,
Jul 07, 2016 Kali rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist-books
To give a short synopsis, No Turning Back outlines the history of the feminist movements around the world and how global feminism is, and that they not only share several goals and beliefs, but they also have their own specific goals depending on the region and/or country that they are in.

The author, Estelle B. Freedman also shows how feminism has evolved over the decades (mainly in the U.S. since she is a U.S. feminism expert), and divides the book into parts based on the problems that feminist
Aug 17, 2016 Olivia rated it really liked it
This was a really great read! Freedman did a great job of discussing feminism throughout all parts of the world, instead of only focusing on the U.S. Each chapter focused on a different issue relevant to feminism. The chapters were reasonable lengths, making this an easy book to pick up and put down whenever I wanted.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in feminism. As a Gender Studies major in college, I was worried there would be little new information to me, but by quo
Nov 13, 2015 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Finally got around to reading this book, and I am very grateful. Yes, it is a feminism 101 book (looking at other reviews), and some of her examples are repetitive; however, it is a really accessible book and sparked inner dialogue about my own beliefs. This book reinforced what I believed, gave me a little more ammo for the haters, and made me more self aware. Recommend this to everyone.
Apr 02, 2014 Reuel rated it really liked it
Global history of multiple aspects of feminism over the centuries. Impressive coverage in a single volume.

(2002 hardcover edn., Ballantine Bks, New York)
Jun 21, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Freedman tries to show how the feminist movement began much earlier than many have seen and that it's not over. She tries to present the "holes" that she sees in the arguments of many over the years. She has her own definition of feminism, so she presents the pieces of "truth" she feels Stanton, Anthony, Mill, etc. were lacking. She measures examples throughout history and into our modern age against her own point of view. I guess the greatest value I've seen in this book is that her writing cha ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok
This is a decent history of global feminism, although it focuses mostly on the second wave in the U.S. There is also very little coverage of the contributions that working-class women, women with disabilities, and trans women have made to the feminist movement, which is REALLY disappointing. This book may be a good introduction if the reader is new to feminism, but those who know the history of mainstream feminist politics already will probably desire something a bit more nuanced and that does n ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Great book for people looking for an overview of the history of feminism and the general theories and practices. It's very concise and a quick read. It's not complicated or difficult to comprehend as many theoretical texts tend to be on the subject. I suggest this to women (AND men) of all walks of life.

Interestingly I read it the summer after it first came out only to have it assigned in class the next semester in college (woohoo one less book to read that semester!!).
Jul 13, 2015 Deirdre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of it was a little narrow, and amerocentric but overall quite an interesting read. Looks at the strides made by women and claims that we can't go back. Published in 2002, sadly a lot of it appears to be quite up-to-date.
Sep 10, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it
A good Women's Studies primer.

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's my apathy, but at some point I had to stop reading about the domestic workload discrepancy.

The inequitable distribution of domestic/parenting responsibilities and labor is absolutely true. Even for those of us who married well. And the dynamic is changing, slowly. Reading about it, though gives rise to a resentment that I don't feel comfortable living with.
Jul 08, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
Freedman does a good job of spanning the history of feminism, and touching on the various global, racial, economic, sexual, and other factors that have shaped the feminist movement throughout time and around the world. Of course with a book that aims to cover the history of feminism, no one topic is delved into fully or covered in great depth. Overall, though, a skilled overview.
May 25, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
Considering I don't have much of a background in the history of feminism, I thought this was an excellent overview on the subject. There was an appropriate level of depth about the broad spectrum and forms of feminism across the globe, but also focused primarily on the US. The writing style was clear and easy to read and the organization was really well done.
This was the first book I've read that tries to tackle the history of feminism in terms of the entire world rather than just in a North American/European way.
Several reviews I read trashed it as elementary, but I found it to be a good overview with plenty of resources for further reading and research if so inclined.
Apr 01, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
A pretty wide-ranging look at the history of feminism. Very readable and broad-reaching. I especially appreciated the early chapters about women's roles before feminism and the discussion of capitalism and women. Great food for thought, and a really nice walk through the last 200 years of feminist ideas.
Jessica Laine
Jan 10, 2010 Jessica Laine rated it it was amazing
Read this as part of a graduate feminism course. It is a perfect review of the history of the feminist movement. A must read for anyone who wants to know what women have gone through..... I suggest that everyone read it! Freedman makes it easy to breeze through even though it is a lot of history!
Dec 28, 2015 Melita rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those seeking an intro to the history of women's rights movements would like the early chapters.
The writing style is clear and easy to understand. The history sections were good and I recommend them to anyone interested in an introduction to the history of women's rights movements. However, the parts of the book that covered issues in a non-historical sense were highly subjective.
Nov 24, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
What a great introduction to feminism! I love how this book includes global perspectives and doesn't just focus on white cis-het women's experiences. As someone who counts herself as a budding feminist, this book has really helped me flesh out some of my own opinions and ideas.
Sep 17, 2014 Abbey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting, comprehensive look at the history of women around the world and their fight for rights. This is the side of history the books don't tell you but is incredibly fascinating, even if she gets a bit repetitive.
Feb 10, 2011 Maria added it
Good survey of women's history. Woudl recommend to anyone looking for a survey history book but not someone looking for in-depth analysis or research on one history time or topic or theme.
Sep 22, 2007 Claire rated it liked it
Recommends it for: feministas looking for rejeuvination of passion
I didn't read this book in entirity, but I really enjoyed the parts that I read, and it definitely shaped my paper that I wrote on feminism.
Mar 25, 2012 Courtney rated it it was ok
Read sections of the book for a history class. Wasn't written in an interesting enough voice to be good, but the facts were fascinating.
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“I use “equal worth” rather than equality because the latter term often assumes that men’s historical experience—whether economic, political, or sexual—is the standard to which women should aspire.” 0 likes
“to quell the women’s revolt, the British first sent police, then soldiers, and finally even the Boy Scouts.” 0 likes
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