The Feminism of Uncertainty

A Gender Diary

The Feminism of Uncertainty

Book Pages: 378 Illustrations: 24 illustrations Published: September 2015

Author: Ann Snitow

Activism, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

The Feminism of Uncertainty brings together Ann Snitow’s passionate, provocative dispatches from forty years on the front lines of feminist activism and thought. In such celebrated pieces as "A Gender Diary"—which confronts feminism’s need to embrace, while dismantling, the category of "woman"—Snitow is a virtuoso of paradox. Freely mixing genres in vibrant prose, she considers Angela Carter, Doris Lessing, and Dorothy Dinnerstein and offers self-reflexive accounts of her own organizing, writing, and teaching. Her pieces on international activism, sexuality, motherhood, and the waywardness of political memory all engage feminism’s impossible contradictions—and its utopian hopes. 


“Snitow’s work has always been very readable. Her prose has that luminous fluency that comes only after a writer has been steeped in decades of rigorous reading, writing and activism. These essays repeatedly emphasise how important her students are to her. … For third- and fourth-wave feminist readers, The Feminism of Uncertainty will be both an introduction to Snitow’s philosophy and a valuable reminder not to reinvent the feminist wheel.” — Emma Rees, Times Higher Education

"Snitow makes clear exactly how her own feminist thinking shifts, depend- ing on context, cause, and the changing world. This commitment to 'uncertainty' is ultimately about being mindful that these shifts are —and will be —a constant, regardless of our feminist goals. Her writing lays out feminism’s 'uncertainty' about women’s similarities and differences from men. Snitow finds another great uncertainty in the dichotomies between academic and activist approaches, and how she holds both, even in her self- reflection and theory."
  — Erica Brody, Lilith

"Ann Snitow is a hero of late twentieth-century radicalism, in its many guises. . . . [A] valuable resource for the ambitious future scholar/activist digging into feminism’s past. . . . The Feminism of Uncertainty shines brightest when Snitow’s uncertainty politics clash with the realities of action (and for Snitow, thinking, reading, and speaking are all actions)."
  — Paula Rabinowitz, Women's Review of Books

"At a time when the field is cleaved with irreconcilable differences between earlier epistemologies of feminisms and emergent perspectives, this book fills a major gap as it cuts across divides and speaks across eras and ideologies." — Basuli Deb, Socialism and Democracy

"Ann Snitow’s writing brims with brilliance, subtlety, and fresh insight on every page. Mixing personal essay with complex theoretical thinking, these essays stimulate and enlighten. One of those rare activists who tries to understand rather than demolish her political adversaries, Snitow manages here to be at once deeply committed and open-minded, presenting each side as sympathetically as her own. For anyone confused by the controversies within feminism, reading Ann Snitow is guaranteed to bring clarity." — Alix Kates Shulman

"In this rich and varied collection drawn from a lifetime of engagement with feminist politics, Ann Snitow combines and recombines theory and activism to make something living, fresh, and dare one say it, hopeful out of what have proved to be surprisingly resistant circumstances. I found thought-provoking insights on every page, and so will you."
— Katha Pollitt


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ann Snitow is Associate Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at Lang College, The New School, in New York City. A longtime activist, Snitow has cofounded The Network of East-West Women, No More Nice Girls, and New York Radical Feminists. She has written for The Village Voice, The Nation, The Women’s Review of Books, Dissent, and many other publications, and is coeditor of Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality and The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction: The Feminism of Uncertainty: I  1

Part I. Continuing a Gender Diary

1. A Gender Diary  21

2. Critiquing a Gender Diary  59

Part II. Mothers/Lovers

3. Introduction to Mothers/Lovers  71

4. Dorothy Dinnerstein: Creative Unknowing  80

5. From the Gender Diary: Living with Dorothy Dinnerstein (1923–1992)  93

6. Changing Our Minds about Motherhood: 1963–1990  97

7. The Sex Wars in Feminism: Retrenchment versus Transformation  123

8. The Poet of Bad Girls: Angela Carter (1940–1992)  139

9. Inside the Circus Tent: Excerpts from an Interview with Angela Carter, 1988  148

10. The Beast Within: Lady into Fox and A Man in the Zoo, by David Garnett  153

Part III. The Feminist Picaresque

11. Introduction to The Feminist Picaresque  159

12. Occupying Greenham Common  163

13. Feminist Futures in the Former East Bloc  191

14. Feminism Travels: Cautionary Tales  204

15. Who are the Polish Feminists? (Slawka)  216

16. “Should I Marry Him?” Questions from Students  228

17. The Peripatetic Feminist Activist/Professor Spends One Day in a Small City in Albania  238

18. Certainty and Doubt in the Classroom: Teaching Film in Prison  241

Part IV. Refugees from Utopia

19. Introduction to Refugees from Utopia  273

20. Remembering, Forgetting, and the Making of The Feminist Memoir Project  275

21. The Politics of Passion: Ellen Willis (1941–2006)  293

22. Returning to the Well: Revisiting Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex  297

Part V. The Feminism of Uncertainty

23. Introduction to The Feminism of Uncertainty  307

24. Life Sentence: My Uncertainty Principle  310

25. Doubt’s Visionary: Doris Lessing  316

26. Utopia, Downsized: A Farrago  328

27. The Feminism of Uncertainty: II  330

Appendix: Publication History  335

Bibliography  339

Index  355
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5874-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5860-2
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