Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

REBECCA WALKER
(1969-)

Jennifer Kohout

Rebecca Walker was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in November 1969. Her parents, white civil rights lawyer Mel Levanthal and black novelist Alice Walker, married in the face of Mississippi's antimiscegenation laws and worked together during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Rebecca, born at the end of that tumultuous decade and coming into a world already politically charged, had the benefit of parents who were already questioning issues of race, class, and gender at the time of her birth. Her godmother is Gloria Steinem, one of the foremost members of the liberal feminist movement both currently and at the time of Walker's birth. Rebecca Walker comes from a dynamic tradition of political change and activism.

Walker credits that kind of open and loving environment for making her adolescent transition into embracing her female sexuality and feminism an easy one. In her article "Lusting for Freedom," Walker discusses her first sexual experience at eleven and her subsequent experiences in her teenage years with a variety of men, trying on a variety of roles:

Because my common sense and experience of nonabusive love led me to decent men, my relationships consisted of relatively safe explorations of sex that were, at the time, fulfilling physically and emotionally. I also began to play with different kinds of strength. While I learned about my partners' bodies, I learned that I had the power to make them need me. While I learned how much of myself to reveal, I learned how to draw them out. While I learned that they were not "right" for me, I learned that I was more than what they saw. ( Walker 1995d, 98)

She also came to realize that "I wanted more pleasure and more freedom, and I intuitively knew I deserved and could get both" ( Walker 1995d, 96). Ultimately, Walker recalls that she came to the realization that "I deserve to live free of shame, my body is not my enemy, and pleasure is my friend and my right,"

-305-

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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