Published at the dawning of the Trump presidency, Women Fight Back: The Centuries-Long Struggle for Liberation (2016, Liberation Media) is a call-to-arms for a new generation. “Under the political circumstances women now face,” writes author Donna Goodman, “it is incumbent on them to join together and fight the misogynist in the White House and prevent the right from destroying what previous movements have built up. A new militant women’s movement must carry on this work.”
Goodman will speak about her book at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz on Wednesday, September 5 from 8-9:30 p.m. Admission is free.
In her preface, the author writes that she wrote Women Fight Back with “a mix of indignation and optimism: indignation toward the right-wing backlash against the gains women have won over more than 150 years of struggle for equality, and optimism that women will once again rise up and fight back to preserve and extend those gains.”
Beginning with the origins of women’s oppression and the beginnings of an organized women’s movement in the early 19th century, Goodman’s book traces the historical evolution of women’s efforts toward emancipation and discusses the issues women face in our current political climate. Challenging the notion that the women’s movement only reflects the concerns of the middle class, Goodman highlights the contributions of working class, black, Latina, queer and other oppressed women and compares the status of women in the United States with other capitalist societies and women under socialism.
With the emergence of the MeToo movement and the resulting worldwide conversation about sexual predators who abuse their power, Women Fight Back is a timely contribution to the ongoing examination of sexism and discrimination.
Following the final chapters, a series of appendices are provided, with timelines, data about women-related issues and profiles of some memorable women in the history of women’s search for equality. They include inspirational women of the past like Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), co-owner of a black newspaper in Memphis and an organizer of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and of the NAACP in 1909, as well as present-day feminists like Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, who in 1999 co-authored a 13-point “manifesta” for the future of feminism.
In detailing the history of women’s struggles over the course of more than 200 years, Goodman hopes to ignite a fire in the next generation of women who may not already be aware of how progress in the past was achieved. She writes, “By connecting the important progress made by the vibrant women’s movements of the past with the urgent needs of the present, the book is intended to help inspire women and their allies to re-energize an independent, national militant women’s movement that fights for the liberation of all oppressed people.”
Based in Highland, Goodman is a longtime activist for peace and justice, helping to organize campaigns for women’s rights, defending the Cuban revolution, freedom for the Palestinian people, ending the death penalty and the prison industrial complex and the movement for environmental justice, among other causes. She is a member of United University Professions (UUP), the faculty union of the State University of New York, where she serves as an elected delegate and co-chair of the Women’s Rights and Concerns Committee. Most recently she has been a regional organizer for Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD) and is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and co-editor of the Hudson Valley Activist newsletter.