Ciara's Reviews > Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years 1960-1975

Outlaw Woman by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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's review
Dec 09, 08

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2006, radical-non-fiction, autobio-memoir, feminist-y-books
Recommended for: radical historians, grudge-carrying memoirists, feminists, anti-war activists
Read in October, 2006 , read count: once

of dunbar-ortiz's three sequential memoirs, i liked this one the best. probably because it felt the most like she was just writing about everything that happened & not trying quite so hard to prove a point. there is a bit of point-proving in here (like the way she builds up her opposition to the vietnam war--why can't she just give it a rest & let her books speak for themselves?), but it's fairly minimal. the book opens with her youthful marriage disintegrating in california & roxanne deciding she wants to be free of it & pursue a college degree. she starts attending university of california in berkeley & gets divorced right around the same time that the free speech movement stuff was happening on the berkeley campus, which leads her into anti-war activism, which leads her into feminism (due to the anti-war movement & the new left in general being pretty macho & uncool on the lady front). a good chunk of this book is about her realizing the huge impact that sexism has played in her life, how a burgeoning feminist consciousness helped her leave her marriage & finish school, etc etc. she kind of wastes a lot of time chastising other political movements for their lack of a feminist consciousness. dude, we know. that's why the second wave got going. i mean, it's not that she's not making a valid point. it just has this beating-a-dead-horse air to it, you know? & then when she gets into the petty (& occasionally not-so-petty) in-fighting among various feminists & radical women...for pete's sake. no wonder the ERA didn't pass. okay, maybe that's not fair. it's just that i get sick of every dunbar-ortiz memoir having an axe to gring against some other prominent political peer. it really just comes across as a bunch of petty jealousy that you'd thing she would have gotten over in the last thirty years. in this one, she lays into cathy wilkerson & accuses her of threatening members of roxanne's feminist collective. cathy wilkerson addresses this in her own memoir & says that she did no such thing & thinks it was an FBI trick. which, it probably was. roxanne was just so quick to point fingers. it bugged me. nonetheless, i'm glad i read it. very interesting stuff.

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