So there are a series of inter-related questions I’m answering in the first chapter of my book.
1. What is women’s culture, as defined by historians and activists
2. How is women’s culture different from cultural feminism
3. Why do the two get conflated.
There has been MUCH ink spilled on this topic, beginning with Echol’s Daring to Be Bad. To say that this book has been influential in shaping historians’ understandings of radical feminism would be a massive understatement. The number of books that follow her narrative (that “good” radical feminism was supplanted by “bad” cultural feminism) are too numerous to list here.
Despite its widespread adoption, Still, her conclusions proved controversial from almost the moment of publication. One of the earliest appeared from Australian feminist Denise Thompson, although Katie King’s a few years later became the more influential one. This is an entire book devoted to refuting her thesis.
Fortunately for me, several people have written about the subject refuting Echols’ on a point by point basis. My “original” contribution, a requirement for academic scholarship, will be to look at how activist advocates of women’s culture defined and used the concept. Thus far, the vast majority of commentary looks at feminist authors, who for the most part have not participated in the grassroots women’s movement (the exceptions are Robin Morgan and Susan Brownmiller).
From the archives (my own personal one 🙂