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Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements
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Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Eschewing the conventional wisdom that places the origins of the American women’s movement in the nostalgic glow of the late 1960s, Feminism Unfinished traces the beginnings of this seminal American social movement to the 1920s, in the process creating an expanded, historical narrative that dramatically rewrites a century of American women’s history. Also challenging the c ...more
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published August 25th 2014 by Liveright
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Kati Heng
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Of course I was going to read this book. Why wouldn’t I? It’s game plan is simply: to clearly and concisely trace the American feminist movement(s) throughout the last approximately 100 years – or from the moment women gained the right to vote until today’s women’s emphasis on “leaning-in.”

Of course I was going to read this. Although a feminist, I’m completely ashamed of just how little I know about feminist history (funny how this stuff never made it into my history classes. Actually, it’s not
Rachel Johnson
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Engaging, super readable overview, with lots of juicy and surprising tidbits. (Who knew that the rift between elite and working class women began almost immediately after suffrage, with the classism of the ERA and Alice Paul's National Woman's Party?)

The book reads as three distinct essays on 20th c feminisms (on the New Deal to the postwar period, N.O.W. and the broader women's liberation movement of the 1960s/70s, and the third wave and conservative backlash of the 1980s to 1990s.) At times, i
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Let's face realities here. The only reason I didn't finish this book was because it was a textbook for class, it's spring quarter, I have seniorities, and I was too lazy to do the rest of the reasons. Yay for skating by.
Don't lead by my example. Don't try this at home kids.
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: scholarly
Feminism is unfinished and so is the writing of feminist history. I missed the lesbians in this book.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this, but there was just nothing new or special about it. Maybe it's my level of exposure to the topic as I have a Masters in Gender Studies and have a history minor.The book promised to be surprising and suggested that it provided a new way of looking at feminist movement rather than defining it in waves. I was disappointed to find that not much new history was explored but also the book lacked cohesion. There as never an overall statement or challenge to the status quo of how ...more
Adam Duracz
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good overview of the history of women's movements in the US. I would have liked to see more detail, but perhaps that would have made the book too long for some...
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
“In the spirit of being nonjudgmental and open to all ways of living, this feminism runs the risk of being merely an identity to claim without any political content.”
Brian Palmer
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure where the 'surprising' part of the title came from, but this is a concise description of the history of feminism in the United States, and worth reading for that alone. It's divided into several parts, each of which reads like a short encyclopedia article describing the timing. However, one thing that the title and the early chapters on suffragettes seemed to promise which the book didn't quite deliver on was an analysis of the different 'feminisms' or 'women's movements' (with emph ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
This is a wonderful, enlightening, very digestible read I would recommend for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. It is, as the title suggests, a history of feminism after suffrage. It opposed the "wave" model of feminist history and describes it more as an ongoing, ever changing movement, featuring many different groups with different focuses and tactics- and that these groups often did not agree. It introduces you to many less known, but amazing women who have advocated feminism throug ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Mostly well written, informative history of feminism in the 20th century. The chapter on second wave feminism is a little troublesome in some of its sweeping claims that this or that were the *all-time most important* contributions of second-wave feminism, which is a pretty broad claim for any scholar to make. There are some generalizations, but this isn't an in-depth historical look -- it's a straightforward, brief history of some contentions within each wave of the feminist movement.

Feminism h
Feminism Unfinished knows its history, but the book - split into three sections, each written by a different author - is nonetheless a dry, textbook history of, as the title suggests, American women's movements from 1920. I think that, in trying to cover everything, the authors left a lot out, and what was covered was just not that interesting. (Is it an age thing? Maybe it's an age thing.)

Recommended for readers who don't have the time to sit through a semester-long course on women's studies an
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Good overview with some less common frameworks; mentions peak white feminism while nonetheless periodically continuing to invoke it. (Ex. The book points out that the feminist movement of the 70s didn’t fully integrate working class needs into economic policy goals, but the authors still refer to “women” making “77 cents” on the male dollar, when that’s what *white* women make—with Latinas at 58 cents on the white male dollar, the language similarly invisibilizes WoC even as the authors are call ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Analysis of the Women's Movement in the US, that didn't hold any surprises except that so little attention was paid by the authors to Title Nine, which has had a dramatic impact on my life and that of my daughter's.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
Most interesting parts are about the connections between the women's movement and the labor movement. Glad I read it, but it's by no means one of my favorite books about feminism.
Bill Kvebak
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Feminism is an often misunderstood and devalued movement that conjures up images of man-hating women irrationally advocating for rights they already possess. The educated public certainly does not believe such negative images of feminism, but most are ill-informed and can hardly grasp the extent to which women have played in a vast array of movements while simultaneously advocating for equality for women. Rarely is the impact of women adequately addressed in the study of U.S. History. The author ...more
4.5 stars
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
A good read. It helped fill in gaps in my American history knowledge and introduced individuals who don't always make the short list of "important feminists."
Maura Fortino
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A pretty good overview of the history of feminism. I think the authors did a good job covering a lot of ground in a short amount of space.
Joe Robles
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
An excellent read, that offers a concise history of the feminist movement in America since suffrage. As anyone who lives partly online can attest feminism's work is definitely not finished. sexist comments abound in discussion boards and any woman who dares say something questioning the status quo, even if the facts are on her side, can get death and rape threats. The fact that many of us assumed birth control was a settled issue shows that feminism is still needed. Finally, that many women don' ...more
"Short" is a very apt description for this survey of mid to late 20th century American women's movements. I liked the fact that it covered the mid-century period between first wave suffragists and second wave 1960s and 1970s feminists, showing that feminism never died, it just took a different form. However, the book was too short to go into any depth on any subject, more of an appetite whetter. It wasn't a bad primer, and the "Selected Sources" is possibly turning into a personal reading list.

Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A rich and diverse primer to the things you need to know about feminism. I'm biased because I took a couple of classes from Prof. Henry, but I haven't seen such a concise, colorful, and useful description of the state of modern feminism as in her section of this book. It's hard to do new things with the second wave, so I don't have much to say about the second section. The first section by Cobble is incredible though; the period between 1920 and 1964 deserves so much more attention and Cobble do ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I listened to the audiobook and couldn't wait to finish it because I found it a bit dull. There was some good history in it, but often it went so rapidly and emphasized women that were largely unknown, so I sometimes felt like I was missing the bigger picture. Other points seemed overemphasized. I am glad I read it and for the basic info, but am also glad it is over!
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Perhaps not as surprising as the cover would lead you to believe, but this book gives a great overview of women's movement history, with a focus on the players that aren't as frequently discussed. I would recommend it to anyone hoping to learn more about how feminism has been shaped over the 20th century (with some spillover into the surrounding centuries).
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, readharder2015
Very important book about the history of feminism movements. It was far more inclusive than other works about feminism I've read.

It took a long time for me to get through it because I struggle with non-fiction.
Abigail Oakley
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about feminism.
Shannon Moore
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reaffirmed my beliefs in feminism. Learned new information on the movements. An important read.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of great information in it. However it was hard for me to get through. I had to sit it down and read s few others before I finally ended up finishing it.
A great read. The first two chapters were excellent, but the third chapter's weakness and repetition of itself forced me to drop the rating to 4 stars.
Julia Dolinish
rated it it was amazing
May 04, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Oct 18, 2014
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