Catalogue


Red feminism : American communism and the making of women's liberation /
Kate Weigand.
imprint
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
description
xiv, 220 p. : ill.
ISBN
0801864895 (hardcover : acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
isbn
0801864895 (hardcover : acid-free paper)
catalogue key
4183755
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Kate Weigand is an archivist at the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and teaches courses in U.S. history and women's studies.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-11-06:
Historians have generally contended that the American Communist Party of the 1930s-1950s had little interest in women's issues and that its party line stated that sex oppression was merely a by-product of bourgeois decadence. Weigand, an archivist at Smith College, overturns this conventional understanding by uncovering a history of feminist activity within the Communist Party and detailing its later influence on the women's movement of the 1960s and '70s. She argues that while such Communist women as Mary Inman, Betty Millard and Eleanor Flexner had to fight against party officials' refusal to admit that working-class men might abuse their wives, they also had to battle more banal instances of everyday sexism. For example, there was quite a controversy surrounding the Daily Worker's "cheesecake" photos of scantily clad women (with captions such as "Mrs. New YorkÄ and she can cook too!") and the struggle to get such images removed from official party literature. Weigand argues that the writings of early Communist women helped shape the core values of second-wave feminism: a 1946 letter in the Worker, for instance, calling for "an end to the separation of `personal' and `party' life" profoundly anticipates the "personal is political" mantra of '70s consciousness-raising groups. Equally interesting is Weigand's discussion of the Party's antiracist work and its sometimes na‹ve attempts at promoting racial equality: in one effort to encourage desegregation, the party offered dancing lessons to white men so they wouldn't be embarrassed to ask African-American women to dance at party functions. Although this richly detailed study is academic in focus, it will appeal to general readers interested in the history of U.S. progressive movements and women's history. (Dec. 28) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2001-11-01:
This frequently successful effort to uncover connections between American communism and the second wave of feminism that came into focus in the 1960s and 1970s focuses on women who were members of or connected to the Communist Party (CP) and the evolution of CP doctrine from the 1930s through the 1950s. So violent was the government's reaction to the CP that Weigand's quest was complicated by the understandable reluctance of some women, years after the fact, to admit to membership in the party. Weigand makes a compelling argument for direct connections, (re)introducing revolutionary thinkers like Mary Inman, whose In Woman's Defense (1940) was among the first efforts to offer a Marxist analysis of the oppression of women. Her chapter on the synthesis of gender, race, and class highlights the work of Claudia Jones, a party leader and the communist movement's most important theorist on the "triple burden" of black women. While at times Weigand molds reality to fit her theory, in general the work offers sound and irrefutable evidence of the significant connection between the CPUSA and the rebirth of the modern Women's Liberation Movement. Recommended for all collections with a focus on women's history or the history of progressive movements. E. Broidy University of California, Los Angeles
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Weigand's staggeringly extensive research draws from previously unused sources, including the U.S. Communist press and the letters published therein on feminism. Red Feminism will become a classic work at the intersection of radical, feminist, and African-American history."--Marvin E. Gettleman, Brooklyn Polytechnic University
"The gulf between first- and second-wave feminism seems less broad thanks to this thoughtful analysis of women's activism with the Communist Party U.S.A. between World War II and the mid-1950s... An important supplement to standard histories of American feminism." -- Booklist
This excellent book will play a strong part in passing on ideas and concepts to future Democrats, Republicans, Communists, and citizens of the world.
"This excellent book will play a strong part in passing on ideas and concepts to future Democrats, Republicans, Communists, and citizens of the world."--Char Roone Miller, History of Education Quarterly
Weigand's staggeringly extensive research draws from previously unused sources, including the U.S. Communist press and the letters published therein on feminism. Red Feminism will become a classic work at the intersection of radical, feminist, and African-American history.
An interesting, well-documented book.
"An interesting, well-documented book." -- Marian J. Morton, American Historical Review
Richly detailed... It will appeal to general readers interested in the history of U.S. progressive movements and women's history.
"Richly detailed... It will appeal to general readers interested in the history of U.S. progressive movements and women's history."-- Publishers Weekly
The gulf between first- and second-wave feminism seems less broad thanks to this thoughtful analysis of women's activism with the Communist Party U.S.A. between World War II and the mid-1950s... An important supplement to standard histories of American feminism.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, November 2000
Booklist, December 2000
Choice, November 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Drawing on substantial new research, Red Feminism traces the development of a distinctive Communist strain of American feminism from its troubled beginnings in the 1930s, through its rapid growth in the Congress of American Women during the early years of the Cold War, to its culmination in Communist Party circles of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The author argues persuasively that, despite the devastating effects of anti-Communism and Stalinism on the progressive Left of the 1950s, Communist feminists such as Susan B. Anthony II, Betty Millard, and Eleanor Flexner managed to sustain many important elements of their work into the 1960s, when a new generation took up their cause and built an effective movement for women's liberation. Red Feminism provides a more complex view of the history of the modern women's movement, showing how key Communist activists came to understand gender, sexism, and race as central components of culture, economics, and politics in American society.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Old Left Women, the U.S. Women's Movement, and the Legacy of Anti-Communismp. 1
Foundations
Building Unity amidst Diversity: Ethnicity, Race, and Gender in the Early Years of American Communismp. 15
The Mary Inman Controversy and the (Re) Construction of the Woman Question, 1936-1945p. 28
The Congress of American Women: Catalyst for Progressive Feminismp. 46
Transformations
Women's Work Is Never Done: Communists' Evolving Approach to the Woman Question, 1945-1956p. 67
Claudia Jones and the Synthesis of Gender, Race, and Classp. 97
Communist Culture and the Politicization of Personal Lifep. 114
Connections
Old Left Feminism, the Second Wave, and Beyondp. 139
Notesp. 159
Essay on Sourcesp. 203
Indexp. 213
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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