Today we welcome a guest post from Rachel F. Seidman, author of Speaking of Feminism: Today’s Activists on the Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Women’s Movement.
From the Women’s Marches to the #MeToo movement, it is clear that feminist activism is still alive and well in the twenty-first century. But how does a new generation of activists understand the work of the movement today? How are their strategies and goals unfolding? What worries feminist leaders most, and what are their hopes for the future? In Speaking of Feminism, Rachel F. Seidman presents insights from twenty-five feminist activists from around the United States, ranging in age from twenty to fifty. Allowing their voices to take center stage through the use of in-depth oral history interviews, Seidman places their narratives in historical context and argues that they help explain how recent new forms of activism developed and flourished so quickly.
Speaking of Feminism is available now in both paperback and ebook editions.
A schedule of Rachel F. Seidman’s author events this fall can be found on our website.
A book based on oral histories has a conundrum at its heart: while the printed stories are powerful, they can’t convey all that comes across in the spoken word. Listening to people is the only way to tap into all the richness of these personal histories. You can hear things that don’t come across in transcriptions: regional accents; voices trembling with emotion; words speeding up with excitement or slowing down in anger; long pauses when someone is hesitating about whether or not to share something; knuckles rapping on a table for emphasis. I believe the variety of voices and perspectives presented in Speaking of Feminism is one of the book’s strengths; by hearing those voices you get a new level of understanding of the individuals who contributed their stories to this mosaic of the women’s movement today.
In the following short audio excerpts from the interviews on which my book is based, several feminist activists share their thoughts on one of the major themes of the book: the impact of social media and how it has affected the movement for both positively and negatively. I hope the short clips will give you a sense of these activists’ unique voices and the power of their insights and stories. In addition to reading the book, you can visit https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/project/collection/sohp/, where you can find both the audio and the transcripts of the full interviews.
Rebecca Traister is a nationally known journalist and author, who has written about politics and culture from a feminist perspective for many magazines, newspapers and websites including New York, The New Republic, Salon, The Nation, The New York Observer, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Her newest book is Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. In this audio clip, you can hear her adding emphasis to her words by drumming her hand on the table. She’s talking here about the rise of social media and how it democratized whose voices can get heard. She notes, though, that differences in goals between journalists and activists led to some of the tension and anger in ‘online feminism.’