Alice Echols’s Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975. Radical Feminism Emerged in 1967 but by 1975 internal contradictions within thAlice Echols’s Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975. Radical Feminism Emerged in 1967 but by 1975 internal contradictions within the movement diluted its radicalism into a tamer cultural feminism. The National Organization of Women (NOW) stands for liberal, NOT RADICAL, feminism. Radical feminism was a “political movement dedicated to eliminating the sex-class system.” (6) It aimed to “fundamentally restructure private and public life.” (11) It did not look for gender equality within the already unequal society; instead, it aimed to vilify men—and not capitalism, racism or imperialism—as the cause of women’s inequality. Echols agrees with Evans in that male chauvinism in the Civil Rights and New Left movements prompted a separate Female Consciousness. To Echols, however, this was more a reaction, and not a setting in which valuable organization skills and confidence was found. SDS was especially sexist. Oppression in these groups and movements prompted a separate women’s movement. Women felt further excluded by the sub-groups within these movements that emerged, including Black Power and men’s involvement in the military draft. Radical women took a cue from Black Power. It inspired them and “enabled them to argue that it was valid for women to organize around their own oppression and to define the terms of their struggle.” (49) In short, Echols adds to the historiography by emphasizing the radicalism of these movements.
The book, in short: - Early feminists did not call themselves feminists. They were Radical Women. o The first split (of many) within this movement was between the “feminists” and the “politicos.” Feminists felt that men were the enemy. Politicos felt that capitalism was the enemy; women should partake in a larger revolution to overthrow the system. o Problematically, all forms of organization, because they were formed mostly by men, were oppressive. - Lesbian-Feminism is not a part of feminist/radical feminism. Instead, it came from the politico camp. When leftists were leaving political life, lesbianism became the most radical approach. o There ensued a “gay-straight split” o Lesbians argued that only by being lesbian could a radical feminist truly realize their place in society. They would no longer be beholden to men for sex, pay, or required to use birth control. o This alienated heterosexual feminists, who diverged with this group. o Arguments over whether or not lesbianism was socially vs. biologically constructed arose, deepening the divide. Lesbian issue conflicted with the universal female model pushed by radical feminists. In this way, it helped lead to cultural feminism.
- Radical Feminism focused on men, and not any other construct, as the cause of their oppression - With pushing the gender issue to the fore of social critiques, liberal women were forced to address their arguments. - Gender trumped class or race. - Abortion should be legal across the board. - It claimed that all women were equal, that sisterhood could overcome class and race. This claim has proved to be false. o Class and Race differences were there from the beginning. o Bickering over them led to the movement’s infighting o Lesbianism questioned the claim that all women were equal - Culture feminism took radical feminism’s place. o Focuses on a female counterculture, not struggles against the structural forces that create inequality. o Is okay with capitalist exploitation of women while pushing for women’s rightful place of moral superiority above men. ...more
She does not use a personal account like Friedan. Instead, she makes a historical argument that the roots of 2nd wave feminism come from women’s expe She does not use a personal account like Friedan. Instead, she makes a historical argument that the roots of 2nd wave feminism come from women’s experiences in earlier social movements. Black power and the experiences of organizing, protesting, and cross gender involvement in the Civil Rights movement shaped 2nd wave feminism. The New Left also shaped the Women’s Liberation movement both positively and negatively. Positively in that organizational skill, self-confidence, political acumen, and a language by which to espouse dissatisfaction were all found in the New Left. Negatively because the Machismo of the New Left often did not treat women as equals; it relegated them to making coffee and copies. In short, they were exploited in the New Left as well as outside of it. Evans discovers that, in a telling example, one prominent SDSer could not recall the name of a single female member, while a comparison with meeting minutes reveals that many women played a number of important roles in the very same meeting. Problematically, Personal Politics has a limited scope. It is convincing in showing the effects SDS had on its members, but these experiences do not speak to the larger American population of the 1960s. Evan’s cites women’s trend of decentralization and short-lived groupings as a failure in organization. Yet as Linda Gordon points out, feminist thought and New Left thought both endorsed these approaches as critiques to bureaucratization and over-management inherent in the US society, government, and universities.
The first to draw comparisons between racial and gender inequality were southerners in the 1830s-1840s. Missionizing brought whites women into black communities where they first discovered equality (soc book review). This mimics the pattern of the 1960s, when southern white women got involved with Civil Rights. White women were expelled from the center of a campaign meant to end discrimination. Male-Female relationships in Civil Rights were compounded by race; not so in the New Left. IN this white middle-class movement, “reactions to sexism could not be labeled racism.” (711 contemporary sociology, sept. 1980, 9, no. 5). The New Left pushed for personal politics—a way to motivate activists by having them self-identify with social issues. Women within the movement also began to focus on the personal as political. Their personal experiences with discrimination (sexism) were more authentic than say, that of white middle class males engaged in political actions against a war they never fought or against discrimination they never felt. Turning the personal into the political was a powerful way for women to exert agency. The New Left failed to acknowledge women’s place in their movement, and women began to break with the New Left. In 1967, women made a clean break with the New Left and began to build the radical feminist movement. BECAUSE WOMEN WERE EXCLUDED FROM CIVIL RIGHT AND THE NEW LEFT, THEY FORMED THEIR OWN MOVEMENT. STILL, IT WAS WITHIN THE NEW LEFT AND CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENTS THAT WOMEN ORGANIZED. So, not necessarily a response to these movements, but an offshoot of them.
(According to a review in Contemporary Sociology) five factors shaped women’s consciousness.
1. Protest movements (Civil Rights, New Left) allowed for women to realize their capabilities and self-worth. 2. With success, certain women became role models for other women. The movement built upon itself. 3. Ideology that explained the sources of injustice were in place by the New Left and Civil Rights movement. Feminists need only to adopt this model, not create a new one. 4. Women involved in movements attempted to change a culture of passivity; these movements did not allow for such changes. 5. Civil Rights and New Left provided a network by which women could meet and later organize. ...more
In the context of the 1960s, perhaps no work was more influential in influencing the woman’s movement and 2nd wave feminism than Betty Friedan’s The FIn the context of the 1960s, perhaps no work was more influential in influencing the woman’s movement and 2nd wave feminism than Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. This book, written by a self-proclaimed house maker, exposed the series of beliefs “that trapped Middle Class suburban women for whom extra income was not an economic necessity but a choice about identity and self-development.” (2) Post War, women were encouraged to be mothers and wives, not professionals. Yet at the same time, more and more women were working outside the home. In short, before the war, women sought individuality and fulfillment, but after the war they were encouraged to find fulfillment in motherhood and domesticity. Friedan accused Freudianism (although not therapy per se) of rationalizing the belief that women were less human than men; in short, like penis envy, where women serve men or envy them. She blamed Anthropologist Margaret Mead for promoting the feminine mystique by “glorifying feminine women and emphasizing their sexual and biological responsibilities.” (3) Ironically, at a time when more women are going to college, so too are more women choosing early marriage. She blames this trend on “sex-directed educators” who focused on personal development in modern society, not education. Because of these forces, there was a divide between what women read and experienced. This divided caused confusion and self-doubt. (3) Media images promote and reinforce the domestic housewife as happy, but they are in fact not happy. Not being happy at home, women envied men. They now found “fulfillment only in sexual passivity, male domination, and nurturing maternal love.” (3) The feminine mystique, therefore, “prevented women from realizing their full human potential.” The domestic sphere was their prison. Consumer culture promised more free-time for women; yet women were bored in their domestic prison. Chores took up all their time. Consumption, housework, and sex were inauthentic and unsatisfactory experiences. (3) Friedan concluded that women can only achieve fulfillment through personal growth. She offers “A New Life Plan for Women” which calls for a continuation of family and marriage, but also with a greater purpose that “shapes the future.” (4) This did not mean simply volunteer work; instead, this work must require Intelligence, Initiative, Leadership, Responsibility, genuine social contribution, and Financial Compensation. In short, Women must better themselves throughout their lives. To help in this development, colleges should make concessions to women who do not fit into the 18-22 YO mold of most students...more
Lisa McGirr’s Suburban Warriors examines the rise of the right during the 1960s in California’s Orange County (“Reagan County). She cites this time anLisa McGirr’s Suburban Warriors examines the rise of the right during the 1960s in California’s Orange County (“Reagan County). She cites this time and place as the origin of modern conservatism for the following two decades. The new right in California produced an emerging Republican majority because of three factors. First, before the post-war migration to the modernizing region of southern California, ranchers and small-businessmen already adhered to laissez-faire attitudes. The in-migration of Midwesterners and Bible Belters only further bolstered already strong Republican support. The growth of high-tech defense industries emphasized private industry, not the public spaces of an Affluent Society, and made most residents sympathetic to increased defense spending and a strong military. Finally, conservative groups (some affiliated with evangelical churches) provided messages that fit what middle-class Midwestern transplants were now seeing in the OC. They held anti-communist classes, thereby combining their values with political action.
Daniel Bell and Richard Hofstadter predicted that the ‘60s brought with it the death of the far right. They forgot to account for McGirr’s “Suburban Warriors” who, through positions in the defense industry, were affluent, well-educated, and had a global worldview (modernity). Bell and Hofstadter’s views were obfuscated by the extreme radicalism of the new left and the counterculture. On the right, extremists like the John Birch organization and especially the Goldwater campaign popularized the extreme side of conservatism, not the viable platform/values held by OC conservatives. The first victory for these new righters was the election of Governor Reagan in ’66. Fed up with the extremism of the new left and the watts riots, Reagan won handily. Issues such as busing and lowering of taxes brought together factions of the right. In short, McGirr does a commendable job in explaining why OC was Reagan country, but this case study falls short in explaining fully the rise of conservatism for the nation. Certainly, Malaise, Vietnam, New York, the overall downfall of liberalism and international events such a détente and the Iranian Revolution all helped Reagan ascend to the presidency. ...more
Michael Lind disagrees with Logevall and Kaiser. Vietnam was a “necessary war.” Ho Chi Minh was a “real” communist, not a nationalist with communist lMichael Lind disagrees with Logevall and Kaiser. Vietnam was a “necessary war.” Ho Chi Minh was a “real” communist, not a nationalist with communist leanings. The US needed to fight in Vietnam to bolster its reputation, to show that it could fight anywhere in the world agsint communism. Yet, the US was only willing to spend so much in lives and/or capital. That is why military victory was never possible. During the Cold War, the conflict in Vietnam was inevitable, and LBJ did a commendable job in leading the nation during this necessary war. Escalation was futile because, according to Lind’s examination of Chinese archives, any attempt to block soviet arms flowing into the country would have simply been redirected through China. The war was a success, not a failure. ...more
Daivd Kaiser’s book agrees with Logevall in that it stresses Johnson’s choices. Kaiser specifically argues that Kennedy would have avoided war if notDaivd Kaiser’s book agrees with Logevall in that it stresses Johnson’s choices. Kaiser specifically argues that Kennedy would have avoided war if not assassinated. He shows that from the beginning, JFK was open to diplomatic approaches to Indochina. To Kaiser, however, JFK was not a containment Cold Warrior, but a proponent of détente who worked to reduce tensions between the superpowers. His contention that the Vietnam conflict had no discernable effect on the course of the Cold War flies in the face of Lee Kwon Yew that the war gave SE Asia a “breathing period” in which they bolstered their defenses against communist aggression....more
Leslie H. Gelb and Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (1979): Containment and bureaucracy made intervention inevitable, even loLeslie H. Gelb and Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (1979): Containment and bureaucracy made intervention inevitable, even logical. Communist containment trumped all other imperatives. Only when containment was reassessed (Nixon and Kissinger) could Vietnam be abandoned....more
Larry Berman argued in 1989s Lyndon Johnson’s War that LBJ personally kept the war going, because he feared the political backlash at home if he abandLarry Berman argued in 1989s Lyndon Johnson’s War that LBJ personally kept the war going, because he feared the political backlash at home if he abandoned the cause. ...more
Cirincione’s book is divided into two parts. The first is a pamphlet size synopsis of nuclear science and the early years of the bomb. He recaps briefCirincione’s book is divided into two parts. The first is a pamphlet size synopsis of nuclear science and the early years of the bomb. He recaps briefly policy breakthroughs (SALT I and II, START, SDI, etc…) and provides a good primer for those interested in atomic weapons. The second section is much larger and more detailed. It focuses on today’s nuclear world the policy implications of a post Cold War nuclear planet. Today’s biggest nuclear threat comes not from nation states, but from a select group of terrorist groups fixated on apocalyptic destruction. Al Qaeda is one such group. Terrorists hunting for the bomb are likely to look in destabilized post-Soviet nations or in radical states such as Pakistan. He explains the shift in U.S. foreign policy brought on by neoconserviates such as Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. These men distrust treaties and argue that they rarely have tangible benefits on US security. Instead the propose unilateral action to force regime changes and re-stabilize a dangerous world proactively.
- Nuclear threat validates the rationality of neo-cons love of preemptive attacks, as preventing a nuclear attack before it happens is the only acceptable outcome. - Libya’s abandonment of their nuclear program in 2003 marked a success for the Bush administration, but one not in line with the regime change aspect of neoconservative policymakers.
Despite the Iraq war and it’s numerous failures for the Bush administration (N. Korea more aggressively pursuing its nuclear program, an increase in Al Qaeda adherents and attacks, etc…), luckly proliferation should continue to decrease in the years to come. Cirincione offers some nuclear solutions.
- The most effective way to prevent nuclear terrorism “is to secure nuclear weapons and materials at the source. Acquiring weapons and materials is the hardest step for terrorists to take and the easiest for us to stop.” (141) focus should be on Russian material. Some covert bi-lateral actions during the past 20 years have done just this. - Prevent nuclear fuel rods from becoming nuclear bombs (144). - Preventing new states (149). ...more
Looking back on the Reagan decade, two distinct generalized oversimplifications arise. The first arose in the early 1990s. The 1980s were characteriz Looking back on the Reagan decade, two distinct generalized oversimplifications arise. The first arose in the early 1990s. The 1980s were characterized as a decade of “vapid, hedonistic, amoral years” or capitalism, yuppies and greed on Wall Street” (16); Bill Clinton defined this era as one of “private gain over public obligations, special interests over common good, wealth and fame over work and family…a gilded age of greed, selfishness, irresponsibility, excess, and neglect.” (16)
After Reagan’s death, however, another view repeatedly came up in the punditry. Reagan’s reign was one of “renewal and idealism, of national unity and glory.” At the time, contemporaries attacked Reagan’s unilateralism and hard-line anti-communism, but after the end of the cold war, these measures seem not only vindicated, but near genius. His approach of unwavering optimism shaped the decade. To conservatives, explained CNN’s Bill Schneider, “1980 is the year one.” (17)
Troy’s book attempts to “go beyond the clashing oversimplifications.” America in the 1990s became the hedonistic decade many Reagan skeptics worried the 80s would become. Reaganism paved the way for Clintonism. (17) The 1980s were a watershed decade that promoted and made mainstream many vestiges left over from the 1960s. “Granola and blue jeans, Naderism and environmentalism, the 1980s did more to advance the 1960s agenda than to dismantle it.” (19)
- Reagan was not a revolutionary; instead, he was more conciliatory. He reconciled the 1960s liberalism with his own brand of conservatism; Reagan “stayed within the New Deal-Great Society governing status quo, fine-tuning it more than destroying it.” (333) - Political analysis cannot fully explain Reagan’s appeal to Americans. TV shows such as Dallas and Dynasty reveal the opulence of the Reagan Era; these shows would probably not sell during Carter’s era of malaise. CNN, MTV and other cable networks spoke to the full acceptance of rampant capitalism. Lee Iococca and Donald Trump embodied the uber-successful businessman of the ‘80s, and Ben and Jerry, former hippies turned businessmen, were the ultimate 60s to 80s transformation. - Motion Pictures rallied against communism and struggled to redeem America from Vietnam. Rambo, Red Dawn, and similar films touted militarism, so much so that G.I. Joe toys (and a cartoon) returned to popular culture. Back to the Future reveals a nostalgia for the 1950s, as did the return of ‘50s themed doo-wop in popular music. The 1983 film the Big Chill also testififes to the reconciliation of 60s rebellion and Reagan conservatism.
Agrees with: - McElvaine’s The Great Depression, in that Reagan redistributed wealth back to the elites and further impoverished the lower classes. ...more
Ehrman, John. The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan, 2005
Reagan’s presidency did not mark a shift of the American electorate towards the right.Ehrman, John. The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan, 2005
Reagan’s presidency did not mark a shift of the American electorate towards the right. True, the 1980s began a new conservative era in American politics, but most Reagan supporters remained centrist. On the heels of liberalism’s decade of decline and in the footsteps of Carter’s failures—most notably inflation—Reagan courted centrist voters who were willing to try Reagan’s alternatives to failed liberal policies. These voters did not drastically change their views, nor did Reagan push them to. He took his victories where he could. Supply-side economics was his most lasting economic ideology, and it appealed to voters because of its simplicity and pragmatic timeliness. In short, Reagan did not usher in any “revolution,” but instead incremental changes in how the government interacted with the economy and American life.
Ehrman’s book agrees with Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan. Both argue that this is a political era dominated by Reagan-esque politics. Clinton’s victories in the 90s both had less than 50% of the popular vote and were plagued by republican congresses.
- The 1980s were not a time of conservative change or Reagan’s revolution. The changes were more gradual than that. - Reagan ushered in an end to the decaying liberalism of since the New Deal. His actions were not drastic, but gradual changes that slowly changed the way Americans viewed government’s role in society. Economically (supply side) this change was profound. o A less tangible change was an increase in consumer /business confidence after an era of stagflation. o Lower Taxes, less job security, rapid technological innovation, investing, and the culture wars were all breakthroughs of the 80s that became commonplace in the 1990s.
Ehrman’s book is vague and non-committal. It does not take a firm stand on the Reagan presidency nor the decade in which he presided. Instead, Ehrman notes that the 80s have set the pace for an era of political centrism shaped by anti-liberal conservatism. He does little to address foreign policy and the Cold War; instead, economic changes are his focus. ...more
A brilliantly written, left-leaning polemic against the rise of Nixonian conservatism, Perlstein examines why a democratic electorate awared LBJ an ovA brilliantly written, left-leaning polemic against the rise of Nixonian conservatism, Perlstein examines why a democratic electorate awared LBJ an overwhelming victory in 1964 but, in 1972, awarded an almost similar victory to Nixon’s brand of conservatism. He focuses on three main points.
1. American’s voted for LBJ because to do anything else would “court civilizational chaos.” Either years later, they voted for Nixon for the very same reason. In short, LBJs stance on poverty and civil rights rallied against the injustices of Selma’s white police beating black protestors. Yet, in 1965, the LA riots of Watts began to switch the opinions of the white electorate. Nixon deftly picked up on this tide change and courted the silent majority. a. In short, By 1972, with Vietnam protests dying down, Nixon removing troops, societal upheaval was on the decline. To vote for McGovern might threaten stability. 2. Nixon’s politics were appealing because they were rooted in resentment. Perlstein divides the American electorate into two camps—the resentful and the resented; Nixon expertly exploited the resentments of the middle-class, a resentment the often-excluded Nixon shared for an elitist liberal establishment. 3. Nixon used the built up angers and resentments of the 1960s to win the ultimate political comeback of the 20th century.
Nixon’s election marked the split division of electorate that would dominate US politics for the next 50 years, perhaps ending with Obama, but unlikely. In Nixon, the culture wars arose. ...more
Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin make a similar argument to Klatch’s, albeit with a different methodological approach. While Klatch focused on persoMaurice Isserman and Michael Kazin make a similar argument to Klatch’s, albeit with a different methodological approach. While Klatch focused on personal interviews to try an ascertain why SDSers and YAFers affiliated the ways they did, Isserman and Kazin take a less personal approach. They focus on the issues of division, not participants’ upbringings or socio-economic status. They argue that in hindsight, liberalism was actually inflated during the 1960s. Their proof, beyond the end of liberalism and the rise of Nixon, the 1966 congressional elections in which republicans made major gains. Regardless of countercultural foci—environmentalism, women’s rights, civil rights, New Left, etc…--these disparate groups shared a desire for authenticity....more
Never an apologist for Nixon, Hoff dug through the archives to find, surprisingly, that Nixon’s domestic achievements are more memorable than his foreNever an apologist for Nixon, Hoff dug through the archives to find, surprisingly, that Nixon’s domestic achievements are more memorable than his foreign policy gaffs or Watergate. Nixon was actually “more liberal than conservative in economic matters, confounding both his friends and enemies, as he also did on other issues of domestic reform, especially civil rights and welfare. As a Republican, he was willing to move beyond the twin boundaries of the New Deal and the Great Society.” (144) Nixon spent more on social welfare programs than LBJ. Under Nixon, for the 1st time, social spending exceeded defense spending since since before WWII. Ohio University's Alonzo Hamby rips Hoff a new one, especially regarding the Vietnam issue. At length, he ponders “if historians writing fifty or a hundred years from now will view Nixon’s Vietnam policy as the needless continuation of a war. Or will they see a president who inherited a conflict in which 550,000 American troops were embroiled, weighed domestic political imperatives agasint the national interest, wound the American commitment down by 500,000 troops, ended the military draft, preserved American credibility, and negotiated a peace agreement that gave a U.S. client state a chance to survive?”
In short: - Nixon was liberal by today’s standards - Kissinger is to blame for many foreign policy failures. Nixon readily ignored him up until 1973. - Nixon’s domestic achievements deserve more merit than his foreign policy “failures” or Watergate. ...more