History Radical Theory

Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975

Daring to Be Bad: Radical
Feminism in America, 1967-1975
Alice EcholsUniversity of Minnesota Press1989

From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, radical feminism was the most dynamic force within the women’s movement. Yet, in the more than twenty years since the emergence of contemporary feminism, there has been no book-length study of this branch of the movement. Daring to Be Bad fills this void. In it, Alice Echols traces the trajectory of the radical feminist movement from its beleaguered beginnings in 1967, through its ascendance as the dominant tendency within the movement, to its decline and eventual supplantation by cultural feminism and liberal feminism in the mid-seventies.

Combining intellectual and social history with collective biography, Echols provides both a historical and theoretical analysis of radical feminism. Her text carefully situates radical feminism within 1960s radicalism, illuminating the ways in which it was intellectually indebted to the black freedom movement and the new left. Echols also relates radical feminism to past feminist struggles, and suggests that there are recurrent tensions within American feminism: feminism’s relationship to other social change movements; women’s differences from one another; sexuality – whether it should be conceptualized primarily as a site of pleasure or of danger; and, finally, the meaning of feminism itself — whether it entails the transcendence of gender or the celebration of female difference. 

Many younger feminists have a fairly negative stereotype of radical feminism: that it was an exclusively white and middle-class movement that promoted gender essentialism, ‘woman’s energy,’ separatism transphobia, and banning pornography… No book shattered that stereotype for me more than Daring to Be Bad.

Julia Serano, Bitch Media

Table of Contents

1. Prologue: The Re-Emergence of the “Woman Question”
2. The Great Divide: The Politico-Feminist Schism
3. Breaking Away from the Left
4. Varieties of Radical Feminism – Redstockings, Cell 16, The Feminists, New York Radical Feminists
5. The Eruption of Difference
6. The Ascendance of Cultural Feminism

Appendix A: Discussion at Sandy Springs Conference, August 1968
Appendix B: Brief Biographies of Women’s Liberation Activists
Appendix C: A Guide to Women’s Liberation Groups
Appendix D: A Note on the Oral Interviews