Daughters of 1968


Daughters of 1968

Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement

Lisa Greenwald

426 pages
7 photographs, 2 illustrations, index


January 2019


$65.00 Add to Cart

September 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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January 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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January 2019


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About the Book

Daughters of 1968 is the story of French feminism between 1944 and 1981, when feminism played a central political role in the history of France. The key women during this epoch were often leftists committed to a materialist critique of society and were part of a postwar tradition that produced widespread social change, revamping the workplace and laws governing everything from abortion to marriage.

The May 1968 events—with their embrace of radical individualism and antiauthoritarianism—triggered a break from the past, and the women’s movement split into two strands. One became universalist and intensely activist, the other particularist and less activist, distancing itself from contemporary feminism. This theoretical debate manifested itself in battles between women and organizations on the streets and in the courts.  

The history of French feminism is the history of women’s claims to individualism and citizenship that had been granted their male counterparts, at least in principle, in 1789. Yet French women have more often donned the mantle of particularism, advancing their contributions as mothers to prove their worth as citizens, than they have thrown it off, claiming absolute equality. The few exceptions, such as Simone de Beauvoir or the 1970s activists, illustrate the diversity and tensions within French feminism, as France moved from a corporatist and tradition-minded country to one marked by individualism and modernity.

Author Bio

Lisa Greenwald, PhD, spent almost a decade working in and researching the women’s movement in France, supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and grants from the French government. She has worked as a consultant and in-house historian for a variety of nonprofits and foundations in France, Chicago, and New York. She teaches history at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. 


"In an entanglement of opinions and assumptions, Greenwald thoroughly iterates the principal arguments and struggles of this time and any scholar researching feminism, or perhaps simply a curious reader, would do well to pick up this book."—Celina Vargas, French Review

"Scholars of twentieth-century feminist history on both sides of the Atlantic will want to take note of Lisa Greenwald's comprehensive account of the ideological debates that underpinned feminist-led public policy changes in postwar France."—Sandra Reineke, American Historical Review

“‘Femininity and womanhood had long been expressions of women’s power and the root of their identity in French society,’ writes Lisa Greenwald. Her lively, smart, and thoroughly researched book shows how those terms—and the power arrangements and identities they stood for—were revised, reinterpreted, and repudiated. . . . The fiftieth anniversary of May ’68 will direct new attention to its powerful aftershocks. Feminism was one of those aftershocks, and Greenwald’s book will be part of our reappraisal of this historical moment.”In an entanglement of opinions and assumptions, Greenwald thoroughly iterates the principal arguments and struggles of this time and any scholar researching feminism, or perhaps simply a curious reader, would do well to pick up this book. Judith G. Coffin, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin

“Lisa Greenwald introduces anglophone audiences to the breadth and depth of second-wave feminism in France. Her bold analysis encompasses much more than theory by restoring to us the complexity of the activist components of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes.”—Karen Offen, senior scholar, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University

“Finally! In her remarkable book on the history of French feminism after World War II, Lisa Greenwald restores overlooked feminist activists of the 1950s and 1960s to their rightful place. Embedding them in their changing historical context, Greenwald follows feminism through upheaval and fracture after 1968, exploring both the unresolved dilemmas and the profound changes feminists brought about.”—Sarah Fishman, associate dean for undergraduate studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston

“A solid and well-documented investigation into the Women’s Liberation Movement in France: its actions, its components, its relations with previous generations, and its painful internal conflicts. It reveals the very important role played by radical and materialist feminists. It is an effective antidote against the invention of ‘French feminism’ by some American scholars.”—Sylvie Chaperon, professor of contemporary and gender history at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Laboratory FRAMESPA

“This is the book you need in order to grasp the complex history of French Second-Wave Feminism.”—Bibia Pavard, senior lecturer in history, Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis of Media (CARISM) at the University Paris II

"In the United States, there remains the belief that French feminism of the second wave is only a literary and/or theoretical movement, leaving in the shadow its political struggles, internal conflicts, and their real impacts. The novelty of this work is to place the women's liberation movement in the historical and intellectual contexts in which it emerged and grew . . . Lisa Greenwald's book will therefore be of interest in more than one way: not only does it offer, for the first time on the other side of the Atlantic, a history of the women's liberation movement in France and highlights—in a comparative perspective with the United States movement by example—the peculiarities that cross it. It also lets us French readers see a new approach to second wave feminism by placing it in a longer time frame—by linking it to the French political and intellectual context and to the first writings and first actions of women (mainly since the end of World War II)."—Archives du Feminisme

"Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement, is the story of modern-day French feminism which was both impactful and full of intellectual and personal conflict."—Marshal Zeringue, Page 99 Test

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations                                                                                                             


Introduction: Reigniting French Feminism for the Twentieth Century                                                                                                                    

1. Liberation and Rethinking Gender Roles: 1944–1950                                                                                                                         

2. Reform and Consensus: Feminism in the 1950s and 1960s                                                                                                                       

3. The May Events and the Birth of Second-Wave Feminism: 1968–1970                                                                                                                         

4. New Feminist Theory and Feminist Practice: The Early 1970s                                                                                                                       

5. The Mouvement de Libération des Femmes and the Fight for Reproductive Freedom: 1970–1979

6. Takeover? Feminists In and Out of Party Politics: The Late 1970s                                                                                                                       

7. Who Owns Women’s Liberation? The Campaigns for French Women                                                                                                                    

Not a Conclusion: The Socialist Party’s Ascendancy and French Feminism’s Second Wave                                                                                                                       

Appendix: The Feminist Press in France, 1968–1981                                                                                                                         




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