I’m really mad I did not read this book in college, because I think it would helped me develop a more well-rounded feminism. Angela Davis does not use the word “intersectionality” here, but she’s clearly angling for it. I also think that this book is vital for feminists/womanists, because it helps us address complex issues that surround equity for all who identify as women. As a former history major, I was glad to see the long (racist) history surrounding women’s suffrage frankly addressed. Until we work out the mistakes of the past, we cannot build a better future.
Davis’s chapters focus on the long history of suffrage, the agents involved, and the various movements that intersected in the fight for equality. She also provides a historiography of writers and their texts about suffrage, which shows us evolving views and how those views were shaped. She points out, well before many contemporary writers, how gender identity, race, and class shape experiences with inequality, and that much of the suffrage fight was centered on the experiences of white middle class women (such as myself).
This book is a must-read. While Davis is an academic, she unpacks complex ideas fluidly and helps you understand history from an ignored perspective. Reading diverse voices in history helps us rethink our perspectives and understand how events are shaped by different experiences.