Feminism and Utopianism in the 1970s
This book explores the transformative potential of feminist visions of change, even as it sees their ideological blind spots. It does more than simply look back to the 1970s. Instead, it looks ahead, anticipating some of the shifts and changes of feminist thought in the following decades: its transnational scope, its critique of identity politics and the gendered politics of sexuality, and its embrace of affect as an analytical category. The author argues that the radical utopianism of second wave feminisms has not lost its urgency. The transformations they envisioned are still our challenge, as the vital work of social change remains undone.
Introduction to the Classics Edition
“The Unfinished The Unbegun The Possible”1: Partial Visions, A Generation Later
Think about the 1970s and you might draw a blank. The 1960s – that’s when things were happening. But the seventies …? That’s when “I’m OK, you’re OK” replaced the struggle for social justice, and traditional values, including established gender roles,2 returned. It was the “Me Decade,” as the literary journalist Tom Wolfe defined it (Wolfe 1976),3 a time of mood rings and smiley faces, the period that pivoted the activist sixties, when a vocal minority wanted to change the world, to the conservative eighties, when a silent majority wanted to keep the world the way it was. When I asked a historian friend, “What did the 1970s stand for, what of significance did this decade bring,” he thought about it for a moment, puzzled. “Kind of a lost decade,” he finally shrugged.
This book tells a different story about the 1970s: a story, not of loss, but discovery, of wild dreams and bold visions for change. It is a story of voices, histories and memories that had seemed lost, but were retrieved and charged with new energies. It is a story of women who traveled through time and space, across centuries and cultures; women who could fly, and change shape and speak the language of plants and animals; women who built cities and created worlds designed for women; who shaped language and measured time to the rhythm of women’s bodies. It...
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