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Book Review :: Feminism, Violence and Nonviolence: An Anthology

Review by Eleanor J. Bader

The forty-seven essays in Feminism, Violence and Nonviolence – all published between the 1970s and the 1990s – provide readers with a penetrating glimpse into the linkages between war, militarism, interpersonal violence, and women’s oppression. It’s a valuable collection, but because it is disconnected from the contemporary realities of 21st-century politics and social movements, its usefulness is likely limited to scholars, researchers, and academics.

Nonetheless, the essays remind readers of the extent of psychological and physical violence, noting that conflict exists far beyond the battlefield and can be seen in our home and work lives, as well as in interactions with a host of government agencies that belittle and condescend. What’s more, several of the essays offer an expansive view of violence and touch on pollution, racism, and economic inequity as potent forms of attack.

While many Second Wave feminists agitated for female parity in the armed forces and in law enforcement, the anti-violence segment of the movement is often sidelined. This book changes that. And while debates that raged during the 1970s and 80s – whether self-defense was a betrayal of nonviolent precepts or was a legitimate response to rape – seem dated, Feminism, Violence and Nonviolence reminds us that 20th-century pacifist-feminists were bold, creative, and radical.

Feminism, Violence and Nonviolence: An Anthology edited by Selina Gallo-Cruz. Edinburgh University Press, May 2024.

Reviewer bio: Eleanor J. Bader is a Brooklyn, NY-based journalist who writes about books and domestic social issues for Truthout, Rain Taxi, The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Indypendent.