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Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe…

by Suzanne Braun Levine

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542425,838 (4.5)None
For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time--from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women's movement in the 70s and 80s, to environmental awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography is the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders.--From publisher description.… (more)
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I guess that the big thing I learned about in this book is that the more liberated women are, the less obvious it is what is a women’s issue and what’s life. If women are told to idealize being housewives, then you have a women’s issue because they won’t have good jobs or independence. But once you get someone like Bella who’s a lawyer and eventually in Congress, in a sense she’s this big woman’s person and this book is in a sense a women’s issues biography, but also as someone with a real job she has to help whoever needs the help, whether it’s people dealing with racial discrimination as a lawyer or doing some national politics in Washington; if you’re in a narrow place everything is this women’s issue for you if you realize because you’re a woman, if you’re free then you don’t try to shoehorn yourself back into a narrow place where you can’t do anything but clean the house and read the sort of second-rate romance novels that’ll make your partner hate you.

It’s like Bella was already free, even before Betty Friedan decided to help free everybody. Bella was always an adult and never a child-wife (or child-mother).

…. Also, although it’s not like you can’t get clashes of personality in politics, with either men or women, but overall I’d say that the brash women being freed opened up a broader world for the feminine women. At the same time, it makes me feel good as a peacemaker by disposition to see that if all these personalities and factions and interests had given in to blood lust and been at each other’s throats instead of helping each other, they never would have accomplished a positive mission.

…. Of course biographies are about exceptional people; it is true that in the outer world there are bruised radicals who skirmish with each other when they shouldn’t, but there are also many women who are fully expected to live in markedly more narrow places.

…. But I don’t like to speculate about whether she deserved the angry 70s feminist portrait some people gave her, not least because it seems like to so many people she was either too much of a Jew or not enough of one. In a world with so much tribalism, can we really say we need more division and enemy-making?

…. Of course, it’s easier just to talk about, right. Women should be able to grow up instead of being perpetual children, but people get used to them being children who act “the right way” and they feel entitled to that. Don’t want to give it up. And whenever you wrong someone, you start to resent them—for all the things they’re about to do to you, if they get half a chance…. It’s not that I don’t think people should act the right way. I do. But if people can’t grow up, that’s just another hurdle to cross on the journey to that place. A lot of people who never grow up because of enforced weakness just end up petty, not able to always act the right way, which isn’t some small feat.

…. Afterword: Since this is like a feeling good about the radical girl piece, I’ll put this here, maybe it might fit in here even though it’s slightly stupid. (Meiner Herz! Meiner Herz! *blows nose*—His…. heart? —Yeah. I didn’t know they had hearts, although I knew they liked music. Well, mystery solved.)

The thing about girlie and why she becomes wrath (the orchid orc lol, so funny), is that girlie has an animus, you know. Girlie has a little man who lives inside of her; he lives in her heart. And the little man gets told that he can’t play with the other boys, you know, so he gets sad, and he converts himself into wrath. Because he’s the little man.

The little man/little girl that lives inside us thing would be allowed to be quite beautiful, if it was understood that we simply are one type of person, and get converted through love into being like a different kind of person; but it’s from person to person, love to love. But when there’s alienation there has to be barriers to stop the non-people and the people from fraternizing.

“Cylons look like us now.”
  goosecap | Aug 27, 2021 |
very good and descriptive book ( )
  yawk | Jul 10, 2007 |
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For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time--from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women's movement in the 70s and 80s, to environmental awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography is the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders.--From publisher description.

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