Read Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz Willis Aronowitz Nona Online


What do young women care about? What are their hopes, worries, and ambitions? Have they heard of feminism, and do they relate to it? These are just a few of the questions journalist Nona Willis Aronowitz and photographer Emma Bee Bernstein set out to answer in "Girldrive." In October 2007, Aronowitz and Bernstein took a cross-country road trip to meet with the 127 women prWhat do young women care about? What are their hopes, worries, and ambitions? Have they heard of feminism, and do they relate to it? These are just a few of the questions journalist Nona Willis Aronowitz and photographer Emma Bee Bernstein set out to answer in "Girldrive." In October 2007, Aronowitz and Bernstein took a cross-country road trip to meet with the 127 women profiled in this book, ranging from well-known feminists like Kathleen Hanna, Laura Kipnis, Erica Jong, and Michele Wallace, to women who donOCOt relate to feminism at all. The result of these interviews, "Girldrive" is a regional chronicle of the struggles, concerns, successes, and insights of young women who are grappling?just as hard as their mothers and grandmothers did?to find, define, and fight for gender equity."...

Title : Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism
Author :
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ISBN : 9780786750450
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism Reviews

  • Yasmin
    2019-04-14 22:43

    This review originally appeared in the Windy City Times, and a link can be found at the end.Some years ago, I was waiting for a colleague as she finished her last student conference of the day. She was teaching a class on gender and a student had come to discuss paper topics. "I'd like to look at some sexist histories," the young woman said, with great assurance. I could not help but turn sharply in my squeaky wooden chair, just in time to see the bemused expression on my colleague's face as she asked, "Um, do you mean feminist histories?" "Oh, yeah, right, I guess I meant feminist," came the cheerful answer.That inability to distinguish between feminism and sexism is unsurprising in a world where Republicans denounce anyone critical of Sarah Palin's vacuousness as sexist and where Hillary Clinton's career, forged under the aegis of a successful husband, is seen as a feminist triumph. In all this topsy-turviness, is it any surprise that some can barely distinguish feminism from its opposite?In the fall of 2007, Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein, both in their mid-20s, got into a car and spent a good portion of the season and spring 2008 crisscrossing the country and talking to women about the meaning of feminism. They spoke to 127 women involved in fields like sex work, abortion-provider services and Native American rights activism.Girldrive took Willis Aronowitz and Bernstein to places as different as Jackson Hole, Miss., and Chicago. The book reveals at least one kind of American feminism, one that is contradictory and richly complex. Willis Aronowitz and Bernstein, diehard progressives, don't shy away from women like Beth in Fargo, N.D., who tells them that she believes in equality in the workplace but also that " [ t :] here are definitely roles for a husband and a wife, and feminism would be erasing that." On the other end of the spectrum is Rebecca, who runs Pantymistress, a porn-production company for men with fetishes.Girldrive boasts of its diversity because the two went to a number of cities and the photographs of their subjects, taken by Bernstein, indicate a rich mix of heritages, from Chicana to Creole to Anglo. But the differences in hues of skin and ethnic lineages cannot hide the fact that underlying the surface diversity is much of the same-old, same-old.If you live in a hipster bubble in a liberal hotspot like Austin, Texas, or Chicago, you will recognize these women. Their feminist credentials are first earned in a liberal arts college or university; they take their degrees to an enterprising non-profit devoted to some form of social justice; and they support queer, sex- and fat-positive politics.The women are no less interesting for these reasons. And while some of us might, indeed, strongly identify as and with them, I suspect that they are entirely new to most Americans who cannot fathom a discussion about feminism beyond the standard "Should women work after having children?" question.Yet, it becomes clear that the two women rarely ventured outside their socioeconomic backgrounds. Entries are often prefaced with phrases like, "Cille …a friend of my best friend," indicating that they rarely reached out of their network of friends or like-minded blogosphere of supporters (the book originally began as a blog, and was featured on sites like Feministing). Bernstein, who committed suicide in December 2008, graduated from the University of Chicago and was the daughter of the artist Susan Bee and the writer Charles Bernstein. Willis Aronowitz, who wrote much of the book, graduated from Wesleyan and is the daughter of the Second Wave feminist Ellen Willis, who died in 2006, and the cultural critic Stanley Aronowitz. Driving through North Carolina, they spend the night at the house of Fred, an old family friend of Willis Aronowitz. Fred just happens to be Frederic Jameson, one of the most influential theorists of postmodernity.Despite Willis Aronowitz's attempt to make them seem like two wide-eyed innocents who stumble into interviews like one with Erica Jong, it is clear that the duo benefited greatly from their social connections and enormous cultural capital. That is not in itself a bad thing—every writer makes do with the resources at hand—but they could have used all that as a base from which to expand their pool of interviewees and to let happenstance dictate more of their agendas. At one point, they run into a single female bartender with a child and on welfare, unsure if she can finish a degree in anthropology ( the value of which she now doubts ) and angry about being treated like "a vagina behind the bar." The authors do not even get her name, but more stories like hers could have complicated their journey in a good way.In another rare trenchant moment, the poet Lyn Hejinian conveys her distrust of relying on social-networking sites and blogs to stimulate feminism because they can "lead to false senses of community and obsession with faking a caricatured self-image," but the authors simply dismiss her critique, putting it down to an unwillingness to "communicate that way." Yet, surely, face-to-face organizing and community-building is doubly important for women who do not have access to the urban areas that the pair choose to focus on.Girldrive gives a sense of a certain kind of feminism in America today, one that mirrors the privileged experiences of the writers rather than challenging their or their intended audience's assumptions. But if feminism is to survive to the point where women understand its value and the distinction between it and sexism, we have to be willing to record far more uncomfortable realities than our own. ©Yasmin Nair

  • Holly
    2019-04-03 17:51

    The book made me want to road trip and go speak to women "in the field" about street harassment (but it doesn't take much) and overall I enjoyed it as a fast read. I wonder, however, if it would have been better to highlight fewer women so we could understand those who were highlighted more in-depth? Or hear less about the authors? Also, among the women highlighted, I felt like there was an over representation of social activists and/or artsy people as well as women in traditional middle class women's jobs (teaching, nursing, waitressing). I was interested in hearing thoughts from women who are in other fields, like working for a corporation/bank/lending firm, a law firm, construction, or working at a fast food joint or as a nanny or a "cleaning lady." I know this was more a reflection on the limitations of their networks, but was one of the thoughts I had by the end of the book when I was feeling a bit tired of hearing from one more educated/activist woman decry the usefulness of "feminsim" (which is certainly fine, but I felt I got it a few times).

  • Elevate Difference
    2019-03-23 19:53

    Fifty years before writer Nona Willis Aronowitz and photographer Emma Bee Bernstein set out on a months-long journey to hear what young U.S. women had to say about feminism, gender, and social inequities, Jack Kerouac’ iconic road trip narrative, On The Road, hit the shelves. “Girldrive stands in defiance of this boys’ club model of all-night chatter and roadside prostitution,” Bernstein wrote in the book’s Postscript. True enough. But while Girldrive blurs the line between romantic travel journal and ardent sociological exploration, the end result is disappointing. Rather than redefining feminism, as the book’s subtitle claims, Girldrive offers 127 vague snippets from conversations with diverse women who are living, working, and studying in small cities and towns across the country.Studs Terkel they’re not. Instead of being an in-depth exploration of each speaker’s heart and mind, the interviews seem rushed and the only conclusion one can reach is that feminism means different things to different people. Most of the women interviewed are under thirty, and while they are forthcoming about their views, their attitudes range from the shocking to the expected.There’s Liana, who “sees being a wife and mother as the ultimate chance to be a role model for young women,” and Kuma, who doesn’t want to be considered a feminist because “men are a great asset” in her life. For her, feminism and man hating are synonymous. Anti-abortion Katherine sees the push for women’s equality as defying God’s law. “The male is the giver and the woman is the receiver,” she explains.Of course, not every interviewee is hostile to the women’s movement. Shelby, the authors write, “has long considered herself a feminist, which to her means, among other things, being sexually empowered.” Ann has a broader view: “Any woman, if she believes in herself, is a feminist.”Most of Aronowitz and Bernstein’s subjects hold a middle ground, hating gender discrimination, but not defining it as a central issue in their lives. Jennifer, a poet and professor with cerebral palsy, believes health trumps other concerns. “Disabled woman [are:] off the feminist radar,” she says. Violeta puts race front-and-center: “I think my being black usually comes before my being a woman…Feminism has been presented as a white thing.” Similarly, Siman, a Muslim born in Somalia, argues that “gender equality is not a priority when your entire culture is under attack.”It’s hard to know how the authors feel about this range of responses. The only real clue comes from Aronowitz’ Afterword. “We wanted to be involved in conversations that would in themselves function like grassroots activism—prompting women to talk about the way they understand their experience as women in this country—socially, politically, and economically,” she reports.Readers can speculate about the likelihood of this happening. But did it? What we do know is that Bernstein and Aronowitz’ dialogue ended with Bernstein’s suicide in December 2008; Girldrive is dedicated to the pair’s short-lived collaboration.How Aronowitz finished Girldrive given these circumstances is anyone’s guess, but she is certainly to be lauded for opening a window into the disparate views of women trying to make sense of early twenty-first century America. In the end, despite Girldrive's superficiality, it manages to touch on scores of interesting subjects. While the result leaves many blanks to be filled, it is likely that the book will inspire others to hit the road and dig for answers.Review by Eleanor J. Bader

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-10 22:41

    Every March, sometime towards the end of the month, I (single, female, 40s) meet with my accountant (married, male, 60s). We sit across from each other at his desk, he eyes my left hand and asks, “Married, yet?” And every March, I respond—enthusiastically—“No!” He never knows what to say next, so I add “I own my own house. I run my own business. I love my life.” He never understands, I doubt he ever will. Am I a feminist? I don’t know—but it’s a question I’ve been thinking about since reading Girldrive this past week. Girldrive was a gift from my friend MaryAnne—research for the cross-country trip I’m planning in celebration of my 50th birthday. While my plan includes stops at National Parks and foodie destinations, Girldrive’s authors Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein had a more significant goal: redefining feminism.Told through photos, essays and interviews with more than 100 women of all ages and interests, backgrounds and experiences, Girldrive offers up an interesting conversation, and a wealth of history, opinions, and points of views. While I didn’t always relate to or understand the varied perspectives, it did make me think, a lot, about my experience as a woman, about the impact of feminism on my life and choices, and the role or lack of a role it plays now, in my day-to-day. Am I a feminist? I don’t know—are you?

  • Erica
    2019-03-26 16:01

    I was really excited about the concept of a road trip across the country to interview young women about feminism, but after the first chapter I became concerned about Girldrive's execution. Although the authors obviously went to a great deal of trouble to interview women a diverse group of women, taken as a whole the interviews felt generic because they were so short and lacked details. For instance, the conflict between race and feminism was mentioned by many people in “Taking the Wheel”, but only Martha gave a specific example of where that was a problem and so she is the only one I remember. I know that Girldrive started as blog, so maybe this style just didn't translate well.Another disappointment was the large number of women who viewed feminists in such divisive terms, as an abrasive, man-hating stereotype, or denied that gender inequality affected them at all. Instead of being inspired I often came away feeling a bit depressed.However, it took me a surprising long time to finish this book (which is only around 200 pages), mostly because I kept putting it down to think. Although I was originally hoping for more, the authors did fulfill their goal of taking the pulse of young women in the U.S. So be that criteria I have to view this book as a success.

  • Kelsea Dawn Hume
    2019-04-16 16:52

    Girldrive: Crisscrossing America, Redefining Feminism, by feminist activists Emma Bee Bernstein and Nona Willis Aronowitz, appeals to me on so many different levels. For one thing, it's a travelogue. Also, it's full of gorgeous photography. Third, it's a non-judgmental book about feminism. As far as I'm concerned this is the best part. These writers aren't interested in preaching their brand of feminism, no, they're interested in listening to what other women have to say about feminism. These interviews and musings on feminism and America are completely engrossing.READ IF:1) You're a fan of Inga Muscio and/or Jennifer Baumgardner.2) You're interested in how women across the country experience feminism.3) You'd like a good travelogue about the USA. Original review here:

  • Phyllis
    2019-04-14 20:05

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. Since the autobiographical road trip genre tends to be very...DUDELY (I know that totally isn't a real word but it should be) I was stoked to read this collection of short essays and interviews written by a pair of feminists who went on a cross-country road trip to talk to women about what feminism means to them. The interviews are so short it's hard to take a lot away from the book, and I was irritated that the authors frequently get frustrated with women who have issues with feminism. OK, so in a perfect world everyone would be a feminist, but since mainstream feminism has frequently been dominated by upper middle class white ladies totally oblivious to race and class issues, I can understand that not every woman would want to identify as a feminist.

  • Ocean
    2019-03-25 19:51

    i was really excited by the premise of this book. the actual product was pretty surface-level and kinda disappointing. i was fascinated by many of the women profiled, but there was hardly any time to learn anything real about them (although the authors devoted pages & pages to their own fights over boys, tripping on acid whilst watching movies, and other trivial matters). i also feel like the author's fixation on whether or not these ladies identified as feminists or not kind of missed the point. as one of their own interviewees said, [paraphrased, i don't have an exact quote:] "who cares how you label yourself? just do the fucking work."

  • Nicole
    2019-04-10 15:49

    I picked this book because the photos and pictures were intriguing, but in the end I was a bit disappointed. And I couldn't get past how sad it was one if the authors died, but the overall journey was interesting. I wish there had more information about each of the women they interviewed. The brief descriptions made it a more coffee table read. I feel like this could be redone with less emphasis on scenery, more focus on the individuals and their thoughts, theories, lives. Especially by two women brought up by such strong and important mothers. It almost seemed like they were shying away from being too political to get mainstream published... But maybe that's what their contract required?

  • Danielle
    2019-03-20 19:46

    I liked this book a lot! It's like a coffee table book of current American feminism. The book is beautifully made and the pictures make me crave a road trip of my own. While I understand other's criticisms of the book lacking focus and not learning enough of the women they interviewed, reading about all these women made me really happy and has prompted me to start delving into some feminist works that have been sitting unread on my shelf for awhile.

  • Karly
    2019-04-04 20:45

    Hmm. It's okay - I think they have a good idea, but, for me, it doesn't answer any contemporary questions about the future of feminism...A little too fluffy and third-wave-ish for me. Cool pictures though.

  • Lani
    2019-04-06 21:10

    This is more of a coffee table book than anything else, full of photos and very light interviews. I can appreciate the sentiment behind the project, and I'm sure it was a particularly enlightening event for the authors. But ultimately I didn't get much out of the book.

  • Eliza
    2019-04-05 20:43

    This was good, but I think it could have been a lot better if they went more in-depth with their interviewees.

  • Maya
    2019-03-26 18:47

    Totally pumped to read this!!

  • Sherry
    2019-03-23 20:05

    There are so many interviews in this book that the results are not at all in-depth. It confirms that feminism means different things to different people. It was a fun read.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-10 19:05

    Just got this in the mail, and started flipping through it, to check it out--love the design, the gorgeous pages, and the concise style so far. Can't wait to sit down and delve through it.

  • Mir
    2019-04-05 14:51


  • Sarahveza
    2019-04-05 15:57

    mentoring is the new feminism

  • robin
    2019-04-18 22:00

    One of the worst books I have ever picked up. I get it, you're 22 and new to feminism..but the writing is so terrible that waiting a few years to put this out would have been a better idea.