We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

No Permanent Waves

Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism

Edited and with an introduction by Nancy A. Hewitt

Publication Year: 2010

No Permanent Waves boldly enters the ongoing debates over the utility of the "wave" metaphor for capturing the complex history of women's rights by offering fresh perspectives on the diverse movements that comprise U.S. feminism, past and present. Seventeen essays-both original and reprinted-address continuities, conflicts, and transformations among women's movements in the United States from the early nineteenth century through today.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (43.9 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (56.5 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (72.7 KB)
pp. vii-ix

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (90.0 KB)
pp. x-xii

The idea for this volume originated in two sites of feminist praxis: the Feminist Studies editorial collective, on which I served from 1997 to 2003, and the Institute for Research on Women (IRW), which I directed from 2004 to 2007. I especially want to thank Claire Moses, the founding editor of Feminist Studies,...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (154.7 KB)
pp. 1-12

Permanent Waves engages the ongoing debates over the adequacy of the “wave” metaphor for capturing the complex history of women’s rights and feminism in the United States. But it also moves beyond these debates to offer fresh perspectives on the diverse movements that constitute U.S. feminism...

Part One: Reframing Narratives / Reclaiming Histories

read more

1. From Seneca Falls to Suffrage?

pdf iconDownload PDF (187.1 KB)
pp. 15-38

In recent years, historical studies have revealed the multifaceted movements that constituted woman’s rights campaigns in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Yet one narrative continues to dominate understandings of the period. First crafted in the late 1800s by advocates of...

read more

2. Multiracial Feminism

pdf iconDownload PDF (202.4 KB)
pp. 39-60

In the last [decade of the twentieth century], a number of histories [were] published that chronicle[d] the emergence and contributions of second wave feminism.1 Although initially eager to read and teach from these histories, I have found myself increasingly concerned about the extent to which...

read more

3. Black Feminisms and Human Agency

pdf iconDownload PDF (184.0 KB)
pp. 61-76

As both an analytical tool and a political paradigm, black feminisms— referred to here in the plural because there is no one feminism—are fluid and diverse, focusing in various ways on the convergence of race, gender, sexuality, class, spirituality, and culture. This diversity is often oversimplified...

read more

4. "We have a Long, Beautiful History"

pdf iconDownload PDF (220.8 KB)
pp. 77-97

In early 1970, Francisca Flores, a seasoned activist in Mexican American politics, was asked by Manuel Banda, the organizer of the upcoming Mexican American National Issues Conference, to organize a women’s workshop. She readily agreed. Whatever Banda’s reasons for requesting such a workshop,...

read more

5. Unsettling "Third Wave Feminism"

pdf iconDownload PDF (208.2 KB)
pp. 98-118

The body of scholarship associated with “third wave” feminism has had a transformative impact on contemporary feminist intellectual agendas. Such work spans a vast set of writings that have addressed the ways in which multiple forms of inequality have shaped women’s subjectivities, lives, and...

Part Two: Coming Together / Pulling Apart

read more

6. Overthrowing the "Monopoly of the Pulpit"

pdf iconDownload PDF (206.2 KB)
pp. 121-143

Waves have long served as an evocative metaphor for the history of women’s movements in the United States. This notion brings to mind a vivid image of the sea cresting and then crashing to the shore. As this volume’s title suggests, little is permanent about waves. On closer scrutiny, what...

read more

7. Labor Feminists and President Kennedy's Commission on Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (231.3 KB)
pp. 144-167

Many histories of U.S. women’s rights note the impact of two best-selling 1963 publications: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women report, American Women.1 Both texts called for a reassessment of women’s place in society, and both helped...

read more

8. Expanding the Boundaries of the Women's Movement

pdf iconDownload PDF (209.7 KB)
pp. 168-192

The . . . dismantling of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the federal safety net for poor women and children, [took] place with relatively minimal protest and outrage. Local welfare rights organizations planned demonstrations, the National Organization for Women (NOW) launched a...

read more

9. Rethinking Global Sisterhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (212.9 KB)
pp. 193-220

In April 1971, approximately one thousand female activists from throughout North America gathered in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, to attend the Indochinese Women’s Conferences. The U.S. and Canadian women came from large metropolitan centers, small towns, and even rural communities...

read more

10. Living a Feminist Lifestyle

pdf iconDownload PDF (209.4 KB)
pp. 221-245

In a 1972 memo to the Furies, member Charlotte Bunch articulated her dream for fifty years in the future. Bunch foresaw that “women will have taken power in many regions in the US, [and] are governing and beginning to create a new feminist society.” This new society entailed a long-term view of lesbian feminist...

read more

11. Strange Bedfellows

pdf iconDownload PDF (192.6 KB)
pp. 246-272

Feminists in the United States have long recognized sexuality as a site and source of women’s oppression and of women’s liberation. This has been the subject of intense debate for more than a century.1 In the post–Civil War era, feminists sought to address economic realities, which at times put women in...

read more

12. From Sisterhood to Girlie Culture

pdf iconDownload PDF (257.2 KB)
pp. 273-302

Sporting a bedazzling black tee-shirt embossed with the slogan “F Word,” cover model Gloria Steinem donned an updated look reflective of the doit- yourself culture championed by Bust magazine. Billing her as the beacon of third wave feminist cool, Bust’s editors selected the founder of Ms. magazine...

Part Three: Rethinking Agendas / Relocating Activism

read more

13. Staking Claims to Independence

pdf iconDownload PDF (185.8 KB)
pp. 305-328

During the Gilded Age and Progressive era, white, working-class women in the nation’s industrializing cities launched a series of campaigns to gain economic as well as political equality. Individually and collectively, they challenged long-held assumptions about women’s dependence on men as...

read more

14. "I Had Not Seen Women Like That Before"

pdf iconDownload PDF (215.6 KB)
pp. 329-355

With the emergence of the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many young feminists went looking for a “usable past” of women’s achievement. In New York City, they did not have to look far. New York’s tenant councils had, for decades, operated under predominantly...

read more

15. The Hidden History of Affirmative Action

pdf iconDownload PDF (191.1 KB)
pp. 356-378

In 1993, the New York City Fire Department issued a curious order: no pictures could be taken of Brenda Berkman, on or off duty, inside or outside of a firehouse. Berkman was a firefighter, a fifteen-year veteran of the force. The order was the latest shot in a protracted battle against Berkman and others...

read more

16. U.S. Feminism--Grrrl Style!

pdf iconDownload PDF (225.1 KB)
pp. 379-402

I've opened with this lengthy passage from Laurel Gilbert and Crystal Kile’s book because it suggests something of the contemporary milieu that creates the cultural geography of the Third Wave. By cultural geography I mean the material, political, social, ideological, and discursive landscapes that constitute...

read more

17. "Under Construction"

pdf iconDownload PDF (236.1 KB)
pp. 403-430

I find Elliot’s words and the title to her album a fitting comparison to the work of a cadre of black American feminists that I read as an attempt at “(re)working” black American feminism and its response to the contemporary lives of black women and girls....


pdf iconDownload PDF (133.2 KB)
pp. 431-434


pdf iconDownload PDF (159.8 KB)
pp. 435-453

E-ISBN-13: 9780813549170
E-ISBN-10: 0813549175
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813547244
Print-ISBN-10: 0813547245

Page Count: 472
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Feminism -- United States -- History.
  • First-wave feminism -- United States.
  • Second-wave feminism -- United States
  • Third-wave feminism -- United States.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access