In Feminist Reflections on Childhood, Penny Weiss rediscovers the radically feminist tradition of advocating for the liberatory treatment of youth. Weiss looks at both historical and contemporary feminists to understand what issues surrounding the inequality experienced by both women and children were important to the authors as feminist activists and thinkers. She uses the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Simone de Beauvoir to show early feminist arguments for the improved status and treatment of youth. Weiss also shows how Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a socialist feminist, and Emma Goldman, an anarchist feminist, differently understood and re-visioned children’s lives, as well as how children continue to show up on feminist agendas and in manifestos that demand better conditions for children’s lives.
Moving to contemporary theory, Feminist Reflections on Childhood also looks at how feminist disability theory is well-positioned to recognize the voices of children, and how queer theory provides lessons on contemporary trends that provide visions and strategies for more constructive adult-child relations. Weiss, who includes her own experiences as a mother and foster mother throughout the book, closes her distinctively feminist takes on childhood with a consideration of speculative fiction stories that offer examples of what feminists think makes childhood (un)livable.