Sisterhood: Get Used to It! (Book Reviews)
ord, Melanie, Monthly Review
Robin Morgan, ed., Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (Washington Square Press, 2003), 580 pages, paper, $18.
The media pronounce feminism dead with boring regularity, says Robin Morgan, editor of the new anthology Sisterhood Is Forever. In 1998, on the 150th birthday of the U.S. Women's Movement, Time magazine's cover asked rhetorically "Is Feminism Dead?"--thousands of women visiting its birthplace in Seneca Falls, New York, led by U.S. Secretary of Health Donna Shalala, shouted "Hell, no!" Although Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch might privately wish certain feminists dead, silencing the movement itself is, in the words of Susan B. Anthony, still "impossible."
The sixty vibrant voices in this third sisterhood anthology attest that feminism is evolving apace with the new millennium. Morgan's definitive Sisterhood Is Powerful (1970), a primer in women's studies courses worldwide, only went out of print after an unprecedented thirty-year run, which in part prompted the new anthology again focusing on U.S. feminism. Why limit the scope to the United States after she proved in the 1984 sequel that Sisterhood Is Global? Hasn't it all been done here? Aren't we the most privileged feminists in the world, and shouldn't we now focus our energy on women in more oppressive societies?
It is precisely because, as we have grimly witnessed in the last few months, what we do here as denizens of the only remaining superpower affects the rest of the world so deeply that this work could not be more timely or relevant. Sisterhood Is Forever follows on the heels of the reprinting, with a new foreword and afterword regarding the events of September 11, 2001, of Morgan's The Demon Lover--the only feminist analysis of terrorism (and that applies to U.S. military aggression) yet available. U.S. feminists bear a grave responsibility to revolutionize our imperialist society not just for ourselves, but for the survival of the planet. Morgan considers the wake-up call many Americans experienced in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks (when they asked, Why do they hate us so much?) a "teachable moment" in history.
Morgan's introduction alone is worth running to your nearest independent bookstore to buy the book. As she did in its predecessors, she updates the current status of women in the United States with many alarming statistics (for those who yawn that feminism is no longer needed, we'll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy, thank you). Her audacious vision for the future of New World Women sings--with humor, irony, grief, passion, and wisdom distilled from a lifetime spent alternately behind barricades being tear-gassed and behind a keyboard writing "letters from ground zero." The part of the Susan B. Anthony quote always left out--"With such women consecrating their lives," failure is impossible--applies to Morgan's every action and word.
The essays in the new volume are divided into seven sections: "Some Basics" (bodily integrity and civil rights); "A Movement for All Seasons" (generational feminisms); "Juggling Jeopardies" (multi-racial, multi-sexual, multi-abled, and multi-class resistance to oppressions); "Bodies Politic" (health issues, sexual harassment, prostitution, pornography); "Workplaces" (nontraditional, rural, academic, military, caregiving); "Tactics and Trends" (politics, law, religion, environment, philanthropy); and "Politics for the New Millennium" (cyberfeminism, globalization, feminist institutions, inner space, and outer space). …