Letters to a Young Feminist

Phyllis Chesler's Letters to a Young Feminist is a visionary call to action from a leading feminist revolutionary. Weaving personal experiences into her account of the movement's history, Chesler discusses the fundamentals of feminism, assesses the accomplishments and failures of her generation, and encourages the inheritors of the movement to tackle all that remains to be done.

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"A generation ago, Phyllis Chesler addressed the world in the clear, spirited voice of a young revolutionary. Now a wise woman, entirely unrepentant, she still speaks with the same ringing clarity." -- Judith Lewis Herman

"This is quintessential Chesler--audacious, courageous, tough--but with a gentle undertone of nostalgia for the struggles of her (and our) youth in the women's movement. Feminists young and old have a lot to learn from this book." -- Letty Cottin Pogrebin

"Phyllis Chesler has written in language simple, jargon free and direct a series of letters to the young. She is honest about the accomplishments and failures of our generation of feminists, about what she has learned from our efforts and adventures, and her battles won and lost." -- Marge Piercy

"To read this essential handbook is to be reminded that Phyllis Chesler remains one of the great, dazzling philosopher/phrasemakers of both her movement and her time." -- Barbara Seaman

"Phyllis Chesler speaks truth to the emerging generations the way I wish somebody had spoken to us when we were young. If you listen, you will hear her bold love and desire to protect us with hard-earned wisdom and experience. Never again the darkness of ignorance." -- Z. Budapest

"Thank you for writing the book! It's about time somebody set the record straight. This is a splendid book that would make a fine textbook for use in women's studies classes... a wonderful, essential book." -- Joanna Russ

"I intend to give this book to my sixteen-year-old granddaughter, who will know very well how to relate its deep experience and insights into the past to her present and to her imagined future." -- Jill Johnston

"This is a warm, personal, political, irresistible guide for young feminists, women and men." -- Gloria Steinem

"The sweet, clear voice of these Letters should reach across the generation gap like Joshua's trumpet. This is Phyllis Chesler writing at the top of her form." -- Susan Brownmiller

"Chesler offers words to live by and feminist fairytales not to forget. These letters read like mythic words of wisdom whispered in the dead of the night into open, twenty-something feminist ears." -- Women's Review of Books

"Chesler does an admirable job. She writes poignantly of the way in which her generation 'was eerily silent about woman-hating among women, including among feminists.' She implores readers to adopt a more global perspective on women's rights, she urges young women to be unafraid of the repercussions of getting good and angry." -- New York Times

"Letters is a frank assessment of the past and a radical recipe for the future." -- Chicago Tribune

"Written in a series of short, conversational letters, this is a sweet, poignant, provocative, smart, wise, book... Her humanity, her crystal-clear logic, won me over and charmed me absolutely. " -- East Hampton Star

"Chesler powerfully addresses those lies we tell ourselves. Her heartfelt and unflinching letters come an a welcome antidote... She provides a needed stepping stone, challenging us to continue her generation's world-changing legacy." -- Tikkun

From Booklist

Libraries with active gender studies collections will want to acquire these missives directed to a new generation of feminists and potential feminists from a psychology and women's studies professor whose other, groundbreaking books include Women and Madness (1972), With Child (1979), and Mothers on Trial (1986). In brief essays, using a conversational tone and frequent details from her own life, Chesler examines society and feminism, speaking "strong truths . . . in a loving voice," describing feminist gains and "what remains to be done," helping younger women (and men) "to see [their] place in the historical scheme of things, so [they] may choose whether and how to stand [their] feminist ground in history." Chesler's is a strong but nuanced position: in considering patriarchy, she consistently points out that even successful women seldom have access to real sources of power, but she readily admits that support from women strengthens patriarchy, and that women (including feminist women) can be as cruel to their sisters as any man. A provocative message from one generation to another. Mary Carroll

Amazon.com Review

An excellent accompaniment to any compendium of women's issues, academic or personal, Phyllis Chesler's Letters to a Young Feminist may at first appear to contain things we've previously heard. But have we remembered? Chesler reminds us that, while feminism (she includes women and men) may appear to have fulfilled a purpose and run its course, the issues of unequal social power and unequal treatment are still real (against both women and men). Her discussion of the "traditionally" masculine art of teamwork, in comparison to feminism's ultimate democratic goal of multiple voices making universal decisions, illustrates that problem solving and distribution of power are qualities of both approaches. Like Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own, Chesler admonishes individuals to seek economic freedom. And like Rainer Marie Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Chesler's book offers an introduction to feminism as well as recollections of social history.

New edition coming out in the fall of 2018.

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