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.
A respected group of contributors from diverse generations and backgrounds argue for new chronologies, more inclusive conceptualizations of feminist agendas and participants, and fuller engagements with contestations around particular issues and practices. Race, class, and sexuality are explored within histories of women's rights and feminism as well as the cultural and intellectual currents and social and political priorities that marked movements for women's advancement and liberation. These essays question whether the concept of waves surging and receding can fully capture the complexities of U.S. feminisms and suggest models for reimagining these histories from radio waves to hip-hop.
In the 1970s, feminist slogans proclaimed “Sisterhood is powerful,” and women’s historians searched through the historical archives to recover stories of solidarity and sisterhood. However, as feminist scholars have started taking a more intersectional approach—acknowledging that no woman is simply defined by her gender and that affiliations like race, class, and sexual identity are often equally powerful—women’s historians have begun to offer more varied and nuanced narratives.
The ten original essays in U.S. Women's History represent a cross-section of current research in the field. Including work from both emerging and established scholars, this collection employs innovative approaches to study both the causes that have united American women and the conflicts that have divided them. Some essays uncover little-known aspects of women’s history, while others offer a fresh take on familiar events and figures, from Rosa Parks to Take Back the Night marches.
Spanning the antebellum era to the present day, these essays vividly convey the long histories and ongoing relevance of topics ranging from women’s immigration to incarceration, from acts of cross-dressing to the activism of feminist mothers. This volume thus not only untangles the threads of the sisterhood mythos, it weaves them into a multi-textured and multi-hued tapestry that reflects the breadth and diversity of U.S. women’s history.