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Daring to Be Bad

Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975, Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

1989
Author:

Alice Echols
Foreword by Ellen Willis

Daring to Be Bad

An award-winning and canonical history of radical feminism, whose activist heat and intellectual audacity powered second-wave feminism—30th anniversary edition

Combines intellectual and social history with collective biography to present the first historical study of the radical feminist movement in America.

Many younger feminists have a fairly negative stereotype of radical feminism: that it was an exclusively white and middle-class movement that promoted gender essentialism, ‘woman’s energy,’ separatism transphobia, and banning pornography . . . No book shattered that stereotype for me more than Daring to Be Bad.

Julia Serano, Bitch Media

". . . this balanced study deftly explores feminism, from its break with the coalition of leftist activist groups of the '60s to its abandonment of radicalism and separatism in the '70s. . . . Echols masterfully re-creates a perpetually divisive atmosphere . . . " Publishers Weekly

“A fine introduction to the bold, contentious, complicated women who categorically refused to be good little girls, and thereby changed the way our culture defines male-female relations.”VLS

“Daring to Be Bad offers the kind of critical attention that contemporary feminism has lacked.” The Nation

“Far beyond mere nostalgic value, the enduring worth of Echols’ book is as a resource, not only for the future women’s studies courses, but for all who want to understand contemporary feminism. The book supplies essential background that explains the splits which persist in the feminist movement today. . . . cheers to Daring to Be Bad.” New Directions for Women

“. . . Daring to Be Bad is a welcome addition to feminist bookshelves. [It] breaks new ground, making creative use of extensive interviews and early feminist publications to recreate the environment that elicited and shaped radical feminism.” Sojourner

“Daring to Be Bad is like a long consciousness-raising session: It prods, validates, and witnesses. Echols offers an oral history that is also an homage. . . . we’re given the benefit of a clear and honest eye cast over two decades’ span of women working on that most influential social struggle toward liberation.” Village Voice

Awards

Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights’s Outstanding Book Award winner

Winner of Outstanding Book Award of Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights

Daring to Be Bad

Alice Echols is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Arizona Tucson. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in U.S. history, specializing in women’s history and social history. Echols has received several rewards and grants, including the University of Michigan’s Horace H. Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award in 1987. Her articles have appeared in the books Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (edited by Carole Vance, 1984) and Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson, 1983), and in The Women’s Review of Books and Social Text.

Alice Echols is professor of history and the Barbra Streisand Chair of Contemporary Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. She has written four books about the long Sixties, including Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin and Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture. Her latest book, Shortfall: Family Secrets, Financial Collapse, and a Hidden History of American Banking, explores the underbelly of American capitalism through a Depression-era banking scandal.

Ellen Willis (1941–2006) was the first rock critic for the New Yorker, an editor and columnist at the Village Voice, and cofounder of the radical feminist group Redstockings. Her award-winning posthumous collection of rock criticism, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, was published in 2011 by the University of Minnesota Press.

Daring to Be Bad

. . . this balanced study deftly explores feminism, from its break with the coalition of leftist activist groups of the '60s to its abandonment of radicalism and separatism in the '70s. . . . Echols masterfully re-creates a perpetually divisive atmosphere . . .

Publishers Weekly

If we are still debating the relative importance of gender, class, and race, combating the power of capitalism and patriarchy, this valuable study shows that the discussion owes much to the radical feminists who hewed out the outlines of these issues.

Library Journal

A fine introduction to the bold, contentious, complicated women who categorically refused to be good little girls, and thereby changed the way our culture defines male-female relations.

Voice Literary Supplement

Daring to Be Bad offers the kind of critical attention that contemporary feminism has lacked.

The Nation

Far beyond mere nostalgic value, the enduring worth of Echols’ book is as a resource, not only for the future women’s studies courses, but for all who want to understand contemporary feminism. The book supplies essential background that explains the splits which persist in the feminist movement today. . . . cheers to Daring to Be Bad.

New Directions for Women

. . . Daring to Be Bad is a welcome addition to feminist bookshelves. [It] breaks new ground, making creative use of extensive interviews and early feminist publications to recreate the environment that elicited and shaped radical feminism.

Sojourner

Daring to Be Bad is like a long consciousness-raising session: It prods, validates, and witnesses. Echols offers an oral history that is also an homage. . . . we’re given the benefit of a clear and honest eye cast over two decades’ span of women working on that most influential social struggle toward liberation.

Village Voice

Daring to Be Bad is a valuable book . . . that grapples with the diversity inherent within the women’s movement while maintaining a critical stance throughout.

American Journal of Sociology

. . . this fine and sympathetic interpretation of the origin and evolution of radical feminism will give students of women’s history a glimpse of the passion of those hours and help explain why a new order did not emerge from them.

American Historical Review

As the first major scholarly work on the history of the U.S. feminist movement . . . [Daring to Be Bad] makes an important contribution to the history of the politics of contemporary American feminism, providing a richly detailed history of that wing of the women’s movement . . . .

The Annals of the American Academy

Echols gives a rich, detailed history of radical feminism’s heyday from 1967 to 1971 . . . offers the type of critical interpretation of the women’s liberation movement that contemporary feminism has lacked.

Socialist Review

[Daring to Be Bad] is path-breaking…based on abundant and painstaking interviewing, as well as the tracking down and assembling of the ephemera of short-lived committees, cells, and association.…[Echols’s] writing is lucid, detailed, and extremely responsible.

American Quarterly

Many younger feminists have a fairly negative stereotype of radical feminism: that it was an exclusively white and middle-class movement that promoted gender essentialism, ‘woman’s energy,’ separatism transphobia, and banning pornography . . . No book shattered that stereotype for me more than Daring to Be Bad.

Julia Serano, Bitch Media

To learn more about the rise and fall of radical feminism, I highly recommend Alice Echols’s Daring to Be Bad, a detailed and vivid account of the movement’s history.

Susan Faludi, The New Yorker

This balanced study deftly explores feminism, from its break with the coalition of leftist activist groups of the ’60s to its abandonment of radicalism and separatism in the ’70s. . . . Echols masterfully re-creates a perpetually divisive atmosphere.

Publishers Weekly

If we are still debating the relative importance of gender, class, and race, combating the power of capitalism and patriarchy, this valuable study shows that the discussion owes much to the radical feminists who hewed out the outlines of these issues.

Library Journal

Daring to Be Bad offers the kind of critical attention that contemporary feminism has lacked.

The Nation

Far beyond mere nostalgic value, the enduring worth of Echols’s book is as a resource, not only for future women’s studies courses but for all who want to understand contemporary feminism. The book supplies essential background that explains the splits that persist in the feminist movement today. . . . Cheers to Daring to Be Bad.

New Directions for Women

Daring to Be Bad is a welcome addition to feminist bookshelves. It breaks new ground, making creative use of extensive interviews and early feminist publications to recreate the environment that elicited and shaped radical feminism.

Sojourner

Daring to Be Bad is like a long consciousness-raising session: it prods, validates, and witnesses. Echols offers an oral history that is also an homage. . . . we’re given the benefit of a clear and honest eye cast over two decades’ span of women working on that most influential social struggle toward liberation.

Village Voice

This fine and sympathetic interpretation of the origin and evolution of radical feminism will give students of women’s history a glimpse of the passion of those hours and help explain why a new order did not emerge from them.

American Historical Review

Echols gives a rich, detailed history of radical feminism’s heyday from 1967 to 1971 . . . offers the type of critical interpretation of the women’s liberation movement that contemporary feminism has lacked.

Socialist Review

Daring to Be Bad is path-breaking . . . based on abundant and painstaking interviewing, as well as the tracking down and assembling of the ephemera of short-lived committees, cells, and association. . . . Echols’s writing is lucid, detailed, and extremely responsible.

American Quarterly

Thirty years after its publication, Daring to Be Bad feels more essential than ever. Alice Echols captures the heady vision of radical feminism and documents the wrenching challenges the movement confronted, not least within its own ranks. Both rigorous and generous, Daring to Be Bad offers vital lessons to students of the revolutionary past, and to aspirants for a feminist future.

Jane Kamensky, Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Fabulous.

Women’s Review of Books

Daring to Be Bad

Contents

Introduction to the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

Foreword by Ellen Willis

Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975

Introduction

1. Prologue: The Re-Emergence of the “Woman Question”

2. The Great Divide: The Politico-Feminist Schism

3. Breaking Away from the Left

4. Varieties of Radical Feminism- Redstockings, Cell 16, The Feminists, New York Radical Feminists

5. The Eruption of Difference

6. The Ascendance of Cultural Feminism Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Notes

Appendix A: Discussion at Sandy Springs Conference, August 1968

Appendix B: Brief Biographies of Women’s Liberation Activists

Appendix C: A Guide to Women’s Liberation Groups Appendix D: A Note on the Oral Interviews

Index