This ground-breaking history of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement shows why and how feminism’s ‘second wave’ mobilized to demand not just equality but social and gender transformation. Oral history testimonies power the work, tracing the arc of a feminist life from 1950s girlhoods to late life activism today. Peppered with personal stories, the book casts new light on feminist critiques of society and on the lives of prominent and grassroots activists.
Margaretta Jolly uses oral history as creative method, making significant use of Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project to animate still-unresolved controversies of race, class, sexuality, disability, and feminist identity. Women activists vividly recall a divisive education system, the unevenness of sexual liberation and the challenges of Thatcherism, Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the policing of minority ethnic communities. They illuminate key campaigns in these wider contexts, and talk of the organizational and collaborative skills they struggled to acquire as they moved into local government, NGOs and even the business sector.
Jolly provides fresh insight into iconic actions including the Miss World Protest, the fight to protect abortion rights, and the peace protest at Greenham Common. Her accounts of workplace struggles, from Ford and Grunwick to Women Against Pit Closures and Women and Manual Trades, show how socialist ideals permeated feminism. She explores men’s violence and today’s demands for trans-liberation as areas of continuing feminist concern.
Jolly offers a refreshingly jargon-free exploration of key debates and theoretical trends, alongside an appreciation of the joyfully personal aspects of feminism, from families, homes, shopping and music to relationships, health, aging, death and faith. She concludes by urging readers to enter the archives of feminist memory to help map their own political futures. Her work will appeal to general readers, scholars and practitioners alike.
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