Posted in: Feminism
Published on Sep 02, 2018 by Ilana Lucas
3 New Books About Outsiders Changing the System
A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors and Wonder Women by Phyllis Chesler ($28): Phyllis Chesler was a major player in Second Wave Feminism. Daughter of a working-poor Orthodox Jewish immigrant and his American wife from a Polish family, Chesler grew up a rebel. Now an emerita Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island (CUNY), she taught one of the very first college courses in women’s studies, eventually turning it into a minor and a major, and co-founded the Association for Women in Psychology. Writer of influential works from 1972’s Women and Madness, about the double standards that plague gendered mental health care, to 2005’s The Death of Feminism and 2011’s Mothers On Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody, her consultations have been integral to several landmark legal cases.
A so-called “radical feminist” who is even now inciting controversy, Chesler helped form NOW, gave the keynote speech at the first feminist conference on rape, and stormed the podium at a national psychologist’s convention to insist that the American Psychological Association pay a million dollars in reparations to women abused by the system. She regrets that each generation of feminists have “had to reinvent the wheel,” now telling the story of her generation so they won’t be forgotten. She spills details about some of the biggest names in the movement, including Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin, along with influential individuals you might not know yet (but should). Candid and passionate, Chesler gives us the inside scoop on an outsider’s movement that had major historical reverberations, and will continue to have a massive impact on the future.
“I’ve written many books but never before have I written a book in this way,” Chesler begins. “The chapters tumbled out all at once; I could barely keep up with them. Stories that belonged at the end of the book demanded my attention even as I was writing about something that took place much earlier. This book happened just like second-wave feminism did: all at once. The world had never seen anything like us, and we’d never seen anything like each other. We — who only yesterday had been viewed as cunts, whores, dykes, bitches, witches, and madwomen; we who had been second- and third-class citizens — had suddenly become players in history. The world would never be the same, and neither would we.”
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