Freedom for Women:
Forging the Women's Liberation Movement, 1953-1970

Carol Giardina

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"Giardina presents a history of the women's liberation movement that captures the early excitement of collective feminist activity. Grounded in rich details, Giardina's study uncovers how a small group of people generated the ideas and strategies that helped a movement catch fire."--Anne M. Valk, author of Radical Sisters

"A fresh and provocative interpretation of the origins of the women's liberation movement. By examining the contributions of African American and white feminist 'founders, ' her work challenges widely held misconceptions about second wave feminism."--Christina Greene, University of Wisconsin

In this richly detailed firsthand history of the contemporary Women's Liberation Movement (WLM), scholar-activist Carol Giardina argues against the prevalent belief that the movement grew out of frustrations over the male chauvinism experienced by WLM founders active in the Black Freedom Movement and the New Left. Instead, she contends, it was the ideas, resources, and skills that women gained in these movements that were the new and necessary catalysts for forging the WLM in the 1960s.

Giardina uses a focused study of the WLM in Florida to tap into the common theory and history shared by a relatively small band of Women's Liberation founders across the country. Drawing on a wealth of interviews, autobiographical essays, organizational records, and published writings, Freedom for Women brings to light information that has been previously ignored in other secondary accounts about the leadership of African American women in the movement. It also explores activists' roots in other movements on the left. Comprehensive, serendipitous, and carefully formulated, Giardina's work is a vivid portrait of the people and events that shaped radical feminism.

Carol Giardina, visiting assistant professor of history at Queen's College in New York, is one of the founders of the modern Women's Liberation Movement.

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"Feminist activist Giardina examines the women's liberation movement, spanning the 18 years from the US publication of Simon de Beauvoir's epic, The Second Sex, to feminism's entrenched status." "Synthesizes the birth and evolution of Second Wave feminism; de Beauvoir's influence; the growing perception of a new, more militant women's movement; the impact of consciousness raising groups; and the belief in sisterhood. An important, thoughtful study." Choice, vol. 48 n4

"In this provocative firsthand account of the Women's Liberation Movement, Carol Giardina presents a compelling case that the Civil Rights Movement and the Left political establishment served as catalysts for feminist activists who came of age in the 1950s and 60s. In contrast to the dominant narrative in both academic and mainstream discourse that Second-Wave feminists organized in response to their anger over male chauvinism and women's alienenation from the progressive movements of the 1960s, Giardina argues that these groups were in fact less, not more, sexist than the society at large. A valueable resource for scholars and activists interested in social movement theory in general and the orgins of the American women's movement in particular." Contemporary Sociology

"Carol Giardina has added a valued chapter to the growing literature on the women's liberation movement. While much of the women's liberation movement scholarship has covered the East Coast, it is interesting to finally hear the story of Florida feminism." Journal of American History

"Carol Giardina has made an important contribution to women's history. By recovering the role of black women in the women's movement, she has greatly expanded our understanding of the critical role that black feminists played. Giardina's interpretation of these events provides a provocative analysis of the relationship of the civil rights movement to the women's liberation movement." The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Accessible and is particularly useful for its inclusion of a broad range of African American women as antecedents and contributors to the ferment about feminism in the late 1960s." American Studies Journal

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