Book Talk: *Sisterhood, Interrupted*, by Deborah Siegel

Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild by Deborah Siegel
Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone WildDeborah Siegel (blog)
Palgrave Macmillan (2007), First Edition, Paperback (140398204X / 9781403982049)
Nonfiction (history/gender studies), 240 pages
Source: Personal/purchased copy
Reason for reading: Topic of interest, blogging author

Opening Lines (from the Introduction): “On February 15, 1969, the day I was born, the newly formed women’s liberation movement launched its national attack on domesticity. In New York City, members of the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell – WITCH – stormed a Madison Square Garden bridal fair.”

Book Description, from the author’s website: Older and younger feminists are often depicted at odds, with elder feminists cast as relics of a bygone era and younger feminists portrayed as unaware and ungrateful of the work their mothers did. In fact, as Deborah Siegel points out in this book, younger women are not abandoning the movement, but reinventing it. With a vengeance….SISTERHOOD, INTERRUPTED is a history of feminism from the so-called bra burners to the bloggers and a compelling protest that the generations are more alike than they are different.

Comments: “Sisterhood is powerful,” the second-wave feminists of the 1960s and ‘70s declared. I have, and am, a sister, and I believe this; my sister and I are very good friends. But we haven’t always had the easiest relationship – it’s pretty unusual to have sisterhood without sibling rivalry. In Sisterhood, Interrupted, her history of contemporary feminism and its factions and friction, Deborah Siegel considers the ways in which the sisterhood analogy has united and divided women.

Feminism may appear to be fragmented in various directions these days – because it is – but Siegel shows that even from the beginning of the second wave, feminist “sisters” never spoke with a single, unified voice. While there was agreement on the need for change to improve women’s lives, there were many opinions on what sort of changes were needed and how to go after them. Did women need to change how they saw themselves, or how society saw them? Did they want legal, economic, or sexual equality – and did they need to choose among them? Should they work for change within the system, through traditional political channels, or embrace the concept that “the personal is political” and push for radical reforms through less conventional methods? Were men the source and cause of everything that held women back, so that embracing feminism equated to rejecting men? (For some feminists, this was true, and lesbianism was one way in which they expressed that the personal and political were equal.) While the 1970s and the decades that followed saw progress made in the areas of economic and educational opportunity, personal protection, family law, and reproductive rights, the underlying debates went on.

These questions weren’t definitively answered, and in the 1980s, as the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be ratified and society became more conservative, they became increasingly academic and debated outside mainstream awareness. A generation came of age having benefited from what the second wave did accomplish, but not always fully aware of how it was accomplished; they revived the questions, sometimes ignorant of – or indifferent to – the fact they weren’t the first to ask them, and began to raise new ones. They disagreed – with their predecessors and with one another – on whether the personal really was political, what “sisterhood” meant in an era of focus on the individual over the community, and whether the work of feminism was even still necessary.

My own answer to that last question is an unqualified yes, but because I want to keep this particular discussion focused on the book itself, I’ll save elaborating on that or another post. While Siegel essentially covers the same time period addressed by Gail Collins in When Everything Changed, her emphasis is much more specific and “inside:” her story is about what’s gone on within the feminist movement more than its effects outside it. And as fragmented as the movement is, I was very impressed by Siegel’s even-handed, balanced discussion; I didn’t get a sense that she was taking sides. The book is a “popular” history aimed at a general audience, and I found it highly accessible and fascinating reading, but with 289 endnotes to its 170 pages of text and more than 20 pages of references and additional resources, Siegel approaches it with academic discipline.Sisterhood, Interrupted is a survey, but one focused and detailed enough that I didn’t feel the author shortchanged anything important. This was an enlightening and thought-provoking read that I’m glad to have liberated from TBR Purgatory after nearly two and a half years, and that I’d recommend for all young (and young-ish) feminists.

Rating: 4/5
This book counts for the RYOB 2010 Challenge (19/20)
Other bloggers’ reviews:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,358 other subscribers

Book Talk: *Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music,* by Marisa Meltzer

Book Talk: *Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music,* by Marisa Meltzer

Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music Marisa Meltzer Faber & Faber (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback (ISBN 0865479798 / 9780865479791) Nonfiction (music/women’s studies), 176 pages Source: personal/purchased copy Reason for reading: topic of interest; blogger recommendation (Viva la Feminista) Opening Lines (Chapter 1): “The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, is the kind of university that offers neither grades nor majors. Its central quad is called Red Square; its concrete-block, riot-proof buildings are nestled among […]

Book Talk: *Looking for Alaska*, by John Green

Book Talk: *Looking for Alaska*, by John Green

Looking for Alaska John Green Speak/Penguin (2006), Paperback (ISBN 0142402516 / 9780142402511) Fiction (YA), 256 pages Source: Personal/purchased copy Reason for reading: None in particular; new-to-me author, but a book-blogger favorite Opening lines: “The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party. To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate […]

Book Talk: *Notes From the Underwire*, by Quinn Cummings

Book Talk: *Notes From the Underwire*, by Quinn Cummings

Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life Quinn Cummings (Twitter) Hyperion (2009), Paperback (ISBN 1401322867 / 9781401322861) Memoir/Humor, 272 pages Source: Personal/purchased Reason for reading: Blogging Authors Reading Project Opening Lines: “This wasn’t in my plans for the day. “Alice and I attended a parent-and-child art class. While Alice mused over a composition that would be entitled in future catalogs of her work as Meditations on Pink Tissue, Elmer’s Glue, and […]

Book Talk: *When You Reach Me*, by Rebecca Stead

Book Talk: *When You Reach Me*, by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me Rebecca Stead Wendy Lamb Books (2009), Hardcover (ISBN 0385737424 / 9780385737425) Fiction (children’s/YA), 208 pages Source: Personal/purchased copy Reason for reading: leftover from 24-Hour Readathon, follow-up to my re-read of A Wrinkle in Time Opening Lines: “So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has […]

Book Talk: *The Chosen One*, by Carol Lynch Williams

Book Talk: *The Chosen One*, by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One: A Novel Carol Lynch Williams St. Martin’s Griffin (2010), Paperback (ISBN 0312627750 / 9780312627751) Fiction (YA), 240 pages Source: Personal/purchased copy Reason for Reading: Fall 2010 Readathon Opening Lines: “‘If I was going to kill the Prophet,’ I say, not even keeping my voice low, ‘I’d do it in Africa.’ “I look into Mariah’s light green eyes. “She stares back at me and smiles, like she knows what I mean and agrees. […]

Book Talk: *The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks*, by E. Lockhart

Book Talk: *The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks*, by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart (blog) Hyperion (2009), Paperback (ISBN 0786838191 / 9780786838196) Fiction (YA), 352 pages Source: personal/purchased copy Reason for reading: Fall 2010 Readathon Opening Lines: “I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order — including the library lady, the doggies in the window, night […]

(Banned) Book Talk: *Speak*, by Laurie Halse Anderson

(Banned) Book Talk: *Speak*, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak Laurie Halse Anderson Original copyright 1999 This edition: Penguin Platinum, 2006, Paperback (ISBN 0142407321 / 9780142407325) Fiction (YA), 197 pages Source: Purchased/personal copy Reason for Reading: Banned Books Week 2010 Opening Lines: “It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.” Book description: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people […]

Book Talk: *Mockingjay*, by Suzanne Collins (w/a few spoilers)

Book Talk: *Mockingjay*, by Suzanne Collins (w/a few spoilers)

  Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins Scholastic Press (2010), Hardcover (0439023513 / 9780439023511) Fiction (YA, dystopian), 400 pages Source: Personal copy Reason for reading: Mandatory, after reading the first two book in the series Opening Lines: “I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather. This is where the bed I shared with my sister, Prim, stood. Over there was the […]

Book Talk: *The Day the Falls Stood Still*, by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Book Talk: *The Day the Falls Stood Still*, by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Disclosure: I purchased this as an e-book to read on my Amazon Kindle. *I am an Amazon Associate and an IndieBound Affiliate. Purchasing links are provided by Amazon.com and IndieBound.org, and will generate a small referral fee for me.* The Day the Falls Stood Still Cathy Marie Buchanan Voice (2009), Hardcover (ISBN 1401340970 / 9781401340971) (E-book 9781401394752) Fiction (historical), 320 pages Opening Lines: “The stone walls of Loretto Academy are so thick I can sit […]

Book Talk: *Every Last One*, by Anna Quindlen

Book Talk: *Every Last One*, by Anna Quindlen

Disclosure: I purchased this book in e-book format to read on my Amazon Kindle. *I am an Amazon Associate. Use of purchasing links in this review will generate a small referral fee for me. Every Last One: A Novel Anna Quindlen Random House (2010), Hardcover (ISBN 1400065747 / 9781400065745; eISBN 9780679603726) Fiction, 299 pages Opening lines: “This is my life: The alarm goes off at five-thirty with the murmuring of a public-radio announcer, telling me […]

Book Talk: *The Local News*, by Miriam Gershow

Book Talk: *The Local News*, by Miriam Gershow

Disclosure: I purchased this book for my personal reading. *Purchasing links in this review are through my Amazon Associates account, and I will net a small referral fee for their use. The Local News: A Novel Miriam Gershow Spiegel & Grau (2010), Paperback (ISBN 9780385527620 / 0385527624) Fiction, 378 pages Opening Lines: “After my brother went missing, my parents let me use their car whenever I wanted, even though I only had a learner’s permit. […]

Book Talk: *The Heart is Not a Size*, by Beth Kephart

Book Talk: *The Heart is Not a Size*, by Beth Kephart

Disclosure: I bought this book for my personal library. *Purchasing links in this review are connected to my Amazon Associates account, and will generate a small referral fee to me if clicked. The Heart is Not a Size Beth Kephart HarperTeen (2010), Hardcover (ISBN 0061470481 / 9780061470486) Fiction (YA), 256 pages Opening Lines: “What I remember now is the bunch of them running: from the tins, which were their houses. Up the white streets, which […]

Book Talk: *Why Is My Mother Getting A Tattoo?*, by Jancee Dunn

Book Talk: *Why Is My Mother Getting A Tattoo?*, by Jancee Dunn

Disclosure: I purchased this book for my personal library. Purchasing links included in this post generate referrals through my Amazon Affiliates account. Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask Jancee Dunn Villard (2009), Paperback original (ISBN 0345501926 / 9780345501929) Essay/memoir, 224 pages Opening Lines: “Last Thanksgiving, right about the time that our family had finished scraping up the last of our triple fleet of pies […]

Book Talk, times two: *Undercover* and *Nothing But Ghosts* by Beth Kephart

Book Talk, times two: *Undercover* and *Nothing But Ghosts* by Beth Kephart

Disclosure: I purchased both of these books for my own personal reading. *Purchasing links in this review are connected to my Amazon Affiliates account and will generate a small referral fee for me if they’re used. Undercover Beth Kephart HarperCollins, 2009, paperback (ISBN 9780061238956 / 0061238953) Fiction (young adult), 304 pages Opening lines: “One day I saw a vixen and a dog fox dancing. It was on the other side of the cul-de-sac, past the […]