Dr. Lisa Greenwald, a Emory History PhD alumna and teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, recently published Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement with the University of Nebraska Press. Karen Offen, Senior Scholar at the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, writes that Daughters of 1968 “introduces anglophone audiences to the breadth and depth of second-wave feminism in France. Her bold analysis encompasses much more than theory by restoring to us the complexity of the activist components of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes.” The book emerged from more than a decade working in and researching the women’s movement in France, including with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and grants from the French government. Read the full description from the publisher below.
Daughters of 1968 is the story of French feminism between 1944 and 1981, when feminism played a central political role in the history of France. The key women during this epoch were often leftists committed to a materialist critique of society and were part of a postwar tradition that produced widespread social change, revamping the workplace and laws governing everything from abortion to marriage.
The May 1968 events—with their embrace of radical individualism and antiauthoritarianism—triggered a break from the past, and the women’s movement split into two strands. One became universalist and intensely activist, the other particularist and less activist, distancing itself from contemporary feminism. This theoretical debate manifested itself in battles between women and organizations on the streets and in the courts.
The history of French feminism is the history of women’s claims to individualism and citizenship that had been granted their male counterparts, at least in principle, in 1789. Yet French women have more often donned the mantle of particularism, adducing their contributions as mothers to prove their worth as citizens, than they have thrown it off, claiming absolute equality. The few exceptions, such as Simone de Beauvoir or the 1970s activists, illustrate the diversity and tensions within French feminism, as France moved from a corporatist and tradition-minded country to one marked by individualism and modernity.