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IN OUR TIME by Susan Brownmiller

IN OUR TIME

Memoir of a Revolution

By Susan Brownmiller

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-385-31486-8
Publisher: Dial

A cogent, vivid view that conveys the drama and urgency of the women’s liberation movement, from a writer who was both a committed activist and a critical observer, sometimes simultaneously. Although Brownmiller has written books on other subjects (e.g., Seeing Vietnam, 1994), she is still best known for her 1975 exploration of rape, Against Our Will. This new history/memoir explores the revolutionary decades that began in 1963 with Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, a book that “changed my life,” says Brownmiller. She was attracted to the radical side of women’s liberation and recalls with pride and occasional bemusement the women who struggled to formulate new social theories, mine history, introduce consciousness-raising groups, and meld socialism and anticapitalism with the feminist revolution. The usual suspects—Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer—receive a share of attention, but the focus is on lesser-known activists, many already committed to the political left, active in the civil-rights and anti—Vietnam War movements and burgeoning New Left politics. Experienced in confrontation, these low-profile women organized meetings and demonstrations, wrote papers, published newsletters, and shared the dark corners of their lives with one another in consciousness-raising sessions. A collectivist bent led to the “trashing” of individuals who attracted the limelight (including Brownmiller herself, who as a successful writer had a higher profile). There was infighting, and splinter groups formed. Some, like the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, hung together and succeeded; others fragmented and disappeared. By 1975, according to Brownmiller, the early theorists and organizers were too inflexible and impractical “to triumph on the larger stage they had brought into creation.” But on that stage were core issues of rape, abortion, domestic violence, and sexual harassment around which all women could rally, although clashes continue over pornography, and abortion is once again under siege. Meetings, debates, demonstrations, church speak-outs, living-room confessions—all come passionately to life in this memoir; close to how it really was for women’s libbers.