Finding the Movement

Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism

Finding the Movement

Radical Perspectives

More about this series

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: 5 maps Published: November 2007

Author: Finn Enke

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, LGBTQ Studies, History > U.S. History

In Finding the Movement, Anne Enke reveals that diverse women’s engagement with public spaces gave rise to and profoundly shaped second-wave feminism. Focusing on women’s activism in Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul during the 1960s and 1970s, Enke describes how women across race and class created a massive groundswell of feminist activism by directly intervening in the urban landscape. They secured illicit meeting spaces and gained access to public athletic fields. They fought to open bars to women and abolish gendered dress codes and prohibitions against lesbian congregation. They created alternative spaces, such as coffeehouses, where women could socialize and organize. They opened women-oriented bookstores, restaurants, cafes, and clubs, and they took it upon themselves to establish women’s shelters, health clinics, and credit unions in order to support women’s bodily autonomy.

By considering the development of feminism through an analysis of public space, Enke expands and revises the historiography of second-wave feminism. She suggests that the movement was so widespread because it was built by people who did not identify themselves as feminists as well as by those who did. Her focus on claims to public space helps to explain why sexuality, lesbianism, and gender expression were so central to feminist activism. Her spatial analysis also sheds light on hierarchies within the movement. As women turned commercial, civic, and institutional spaces into sites of activism, they produced, as well as resisted, exclusionary dynamics.


Finding the Movement will work extremely well in both graduate and undergraduate history and women’s studies classes. Historians of sexuality also will find Enke’s work provocative for, although the word ‘lesbian’ does not appear in the title, her project joins a shockingly short list of books on lesbian history in the United States. Its methodological innovations and well-founded arguments provide the perfect model for researching and writing history in the twenty-first century.” — Karen Christel Krahulik, Gender & History

“[A] fascinating book . . . explores the spaces of action and activism that are often ignored in more conventional histories of feminism. . . . Highly recommended.” — J.B. Edwards, Choice

“[A] valuable and highly original addition to the historiography of the U. S. women’s movement.” — Suzanne Staggenborg, Mobilization

“Enke gives us an account of feminist political values as they are struggled over in action, day by day. Taken cumulatively, the record she provides in this book of the flexibility, genius, and solid achievements of the modern women’s liberation movement—in all its varied forms—is simply astonishing.” — Ann Snitow, Women's Review of Books

“Enke’s book confidently moves beyond any feminist need to legitimize itself and instead explores the explosion of sites of feminist activism . . . that challenged social practices and laws restricting women’s use of public space, thereby producing the possibility for greater feminist organizing.” — Julia Balén,, Signs

“Having conducted well over a hundred interviews in researching the book, Enke is able to convey the emotions—euphoria, frustration, confusion—of the movement. Readers can see how feminism unfolded, how ideas appeared and then flourished, failed, or languished, and, perhaps most importantly, how feminism’s boundaries came into being.” — Georgina Hickey, Journal of the History of Sexuality

“In places like softball fields, church basements, and dance floors, Anne Enke locates a cast of compelling characters who don’t usually make it into history books. The result is a startlingly original history of second-wave feminism. Enke forces us to think freshly about the 1960s, political mobilization, and the ways that people change the world around them.” — John D’Emilio, coauthor of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America

“Possibly the best book to date on the ‘second wave’ women’s movement and certainly the most original . . . one of the best handful of studies of any social movement. I look forward to using it in my courses.” — Linda Gordon, author of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction


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Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Anne Enke is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, History, and LGBT Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Locating Feminist Activism 1

Part 1: Community Organizing and Commercial Space

1. “Someone or Something Made That a Women’s Bar”: Claiming the Nighttime Marketplace 25

2. “Don’t Steal It, Read It Here”: Building Community in the Marketplace 62

Part 2: Public Assertion and Civic Space

3. “Kind of Like Mecca”: Playgrounds, Players, and Women’s Movement 105

4. Out in Left Field: Feminist Movement and Civic Athletic Space 145

Part 3: Politicizing Place and Feminist Institutions

5. Finding the Limit of Women’s Autonomy: Shelters, Health Clinics, and the Practice of Property 177

6. If I Can’t Dance Shirtless, It’s Not a Revolution: Coffeehouse, Clubs, and the Construction of “All Women” 217

Conclusion: Recognizing the Subject of Feminist Activism 252

Notes 269

Bibliography 335

Index 357
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4083-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4062-1
Publicity material