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Ms. Magazine


Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution by Serena Mayeri

Hard Questions Answered

A review by Pamela D. Bridgewater

You've been in that room. We all have. The room that had the air sucked out of it because someone among the feminists present noted that their differences were not being addressed sufficiently, if at all. No conversation screeches to a halt as quickly as when someone raises the issue of difference, whether it's gender identity, class, ethnicity or religion -- but especially when it's racial. For generations, feminists have struggled with these "Ain't I a woman?" intermoments, bracing themselves for reactions that can range from hostility, guilt and defensiveness to responsibility and alliance building.

Many believe that feminism has benefited over the years from such uncomfortable but productive moments -- the hard questions, the unresponsiveness, the denials, the meaningful engagements. Others say the charge that feminism reflects only the aspirations of privileged, straight white women is unfair and has caused irreparable harm to the feminist political movement. Still others...

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