Synopses & Reviews
Frustrated by the standoff between both camps of the feminist generation gap, twenty-somethings Anna Bondoc and Meg Daly decided that it was time to bring women of all ages together. What could young women learn from their foremothers, who had fought for sexual freedom, educational opportunity, and equality in the workplace? What did older women need to hear from the young women who now struggle with the day-to-day difficulties of life after the sexual revolution and the women's liberation movement? In order to find out, Bondoc and Daly invited twenty of their "third-wave" peers to identify an admired older woman and, in the form of a letter, pose the question she has always wanted to ask. The older "second-wave" women then responded in kind. The result is a wholly original exchange and one of the most remarkable books about the experience of women to appear in years.
The forty women whose original essays appear in Letters of Intent have left labels like Do-me Feminism, Girl Power, and Conservative Feminism at the door to talk in a personal and intimate way about real life for women in the nineties. Among this book's many surprises are exchanges in which Jennifer Baumgardner asks Judy Blume about being a feminist, a mom, and a writer rolled into one, to learn that the famous children's writer felt more imprisoned by her marriage than by her kids; Eisa Davis writes to Ntozake Shange to ask, "is poetry enuf?" and receives a poem in response; Starhawk reveals the influence of her Jewish roots on her goddess worship to a young Jennifer Hunter; Amy Richards shares her complicated feelings about abortion with a sympathetic Gloria Steinem; Katha Pollitt begs Emily Gordon to show passion and rebellion, asking, "Why so wistful, pierced and tattooed ones?"; and Tayari Jones implores Pearl Cleage for advice about negotiating the tension between work and political ideals. Sports, homophobia, racism, identity, food, and cancer are among the other topics addressed in these intimate exchanges, by writers who include Angela Davis, Susan Faludi, Mariah Burton Nelson, Liza Featherstone, Christine Choy, April Martin, and many others.
Letters of Intent is a celebration of the importance of forging connections. By turns funny, angry, reflective, and passionate, each woman shares a little piece of her self through the story she tells. This inspiring and enlightening book will delight women of all ages, who will discover in it an affirmation of the strength to be found in women's sense of shared community: an idea that is as old-fashioned as a pen-and-ink letter and as new as an e-mail.
About the Author
Anna Bondoc is a first-generation Filipina American who has worked as an advocate for young women's reproductive health, a chef, and a food writer. Her writing has appeared in A. Magazine: Inside Asian America, the Asian/Pacific Journal, and the anthology To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism. She lives in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Letters of Introduction
Anna Bondoc and Meg Daly
PART ONE: RADICAL NOTIONS
Intergenerational Approaches to Activism and Social Change
How are our experiences with abortion and feminism similar?
Amy Richards and Gloria Steinem
Does your generation resent up-and-coming young women?
Emily Gordon and Katha Pollitt
Which come first, our paychecks or our principles?
Tayari Jones and Pearl Cleage
If feminism has been absorbed by the larger culture, what purpose do feminist and lesbian projects serve?
Catherine Sameh and Suzanne Pharr
In an interracial world, is choosing a white partner denying your heritage?
Marie Lee and Elaine Kim
PART TWO: GRRRRRLS KICK ASS!
Women Prove Themselves on Male Turf
How do we respond to pseudo feminists trashing the feminist movement?
Jennifer Gonnerman and Susan Faludi
Why would a woman want to serve in the military, anyway?
Sara Hammel and Arie Taylor
Are there sports in which women beat men every time?
Emily Jenkins and Mariah Burton Nelson
PART THREE: OFF THE PEDESTAL
Younger Generations Take Their Foremothers to Task
What happened to your generation's promise of "love and revolution?"
Eisa Nefertari Ulen and Angela Y. Davis
Why is there so much tension between feminist bosses and their female assistants?
Liza Featherstone and Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Do you feel responsible for opening doors for young women in film?
Nisha Ganatra and Christine Choy
Why aren't you angrier about homophobia?
Lisa Springer and Betty Millard
PART FOUR: BODIES AND SELVES
The Politics of Health, Healing, and Spirituality
Why do so many women have unhealthy relationships with their bodies?
Anna Bondoc and Annemarie Colbin
Can we regain the traditions and beliefs that made our ancestors strong?
Lisa Tiger and Wilma Mankiller
What do young women need to know and do about breast cancer?
Meg Daly and Sandra Butler
How do you reconcile being pagan and Jewish?
Jennifer Hunter and Starhawk
What did you wish for me?
Karin Cook to her mother, Joan Carpenter Cook, who died of breast cancer
PART FIVE: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Women Pass the Torch to Coming Generations
If we've gotta live underground and everybody's got cancer/will poetry be enuf?
Eisa Davis and Ntozake Shange
How did you manage a writing career while raising kids?
Jennifer Baumgardner and Judy Blume
How are you preparing your daughter to face racism?
Patricia Wakida and Yeong hae Jung
What do you love about being a lesbian mom?
Catherine Gund Saalfield and Dr. April Martin