Alice Echols’s Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975. Radical Feminism Emerged in 1967 but by 1975 internal contradictions within th...moreAlice 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. (less)
Organizational culture is central to John Nagl’s comparative study of counter-insurgencies. Born out of his dissertation, Nagl’s title borrows from T...more Organizational culture is central to John Nagl’s comparative study of counter-insurgencies. Born out of his dissertation, Nagl’s title borrows from T.E. Lawrence, who noted that fighting guerilla warfare was slow and difficult—like “learning to eat soup with a knife.” Both the author’s historical research and personal experience in Iraq confirm this idea. Nagl compares British and American experiences with counterinsurgency—in Malaya and Vietnam respectively—and discovers that flexibility in organizational military culture makes a difference. American forces in SE Asia approached insurgency with tried (and until then true) methods of total war. By relying heavily on firepower and tactical intelligence, American forces blasted away at an enemy that never relented. Conversely, the British in Malaya succeed in a situation very similar to America’s quandary in Vietnam. The British were victorious by employing a political campaign to win the hearts and minds of Malayans. In short, fighting insurgency is a political as well as a military campaign. Nagl implores military leaders to give locals reasons to want democracy and stability; in time they will quit supporting insurgents.
Nagl is a true student of military theory and history, one that has taken Clauswitz’s dictum that war is an extension of politics. Learning to Eat Soup has a clear political message. It implies that the United States needs to reflect on its failures in Vietnam, no matter how painful. The American military must learn from its mistakes—as well as British military history—to have any chance of successfully stopping insurgents in modern day Iraq. Although Nagl contends that military culture is slow to evolve, his work should be scrutinized by a U.S. Military staff that currently finds itself in quite a quandary. Nagl’s book, however, never speculates beyond the technical and organizational levels of warfare, and certainly the American military’s current state of affairs in the Middle East has something to do with Grand Strategy. While the initial military thrust into Iraq was extremely successful, for any long term stability to take hold in the region policymakers must think beyond the almost certain successes of conventional warfare.
Nagl’s arguments could be bolstered by some cultural analysis. Bridging the divide between counterinsurgents and civilians—a central point in Nagl’s argument—requires more nuanced understanding of a region and people’s continually torn apart by imposed nationalistic borders and neo-imperialist designs. Regardless of the U.S. military’s good intentions in Iraq, it must be difficult (if not impossible) for those living in war-torn Iraq to view the actions of the western military powers as altruistic. In short, Nagl’s book is a must read for those on the ground dealing with insurgents, but should also be read by policymakers who need to consider the time, resources, and historical understanding needed to fight insurgents successfully. (less)