Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein early 2000's. Over Bloody Marys, two young women hatch the idea of a cross country road trip during which they will take the pulse of the American woman, listen to her stories, and find out how she relates to feminism. Nona will do most of the writing, and Emma will take most of the pictures. Dozens of interviews and snapshots later, this complicated mosaic of women's voices and faces came together.
Many of the women are young, like the authors. They struggle with finding their way, often rejecting feminist stereotypes or defining feminism their own way. Blogs on the internet have replaced the consciousness-raising groups of the Second Wave. If I generalize at all about them (as they range from phone sex professionals to nuns), it is that they are all trying to find meaning in life, and the path to meaning is not clear. Having grown up in the '40s and '50s, I can say that marriage and the family was pretty much it. These women have so many options that they must sort out confusion and create paths of their own.
A few of the interviewees have devoted much of their energy to feminism. Martha Cotera, whom they meet in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is an activist for "Chicano Feminism." She and her daughter describe how the issue of abortion separated them from the broader movement. In Lake Andes, Wisconsin, Charon Asetoyer asserts that feminism is not useful to her as a native American since she and her sisters have had important rights within the tribal structure from time immemorial. Nona and Emma interview such figures as Erica Jong and Friends alum, Anne Waldman.
The book benefits greatly from its design, which tempts readers to take a look. Text and image are beautifully intermixed.
Though Nona does most of the writing, Emma contributes essays and reflections of brooding intensity. Both share a legacy of feminism from their mothers. Nona says that she was the journalist with the questions, while Emma was busy "observing cosmic connections." Emma's tragic death before the book came out haunted me as I read the book. I admire Nona; she was able to complete the work despite the weight of this grief.