Women Imagine Change shows how women all over the world, across a span of twenty-six hundred years, have found ways to resist oppression and gain power over their lives.
Organized around themes of concern to contemporary readers, this genuinely global, multicultural anthology presents women from some thirty countries, speaking from their vivid, diverse life experiences. The relationships between sexuality and spirituality are described by a feminist rabbi's account of her struggle with religious tradition and a thirteenth-century French peasant explaining her self-invented doctrine of free love to the Inquisition. In a section on women's attempts to control their labor and education, we hear a North Carolina stenographer tell how "I Did the Work and They Drew the Pay" (1897) and a Muslim educator in India recount her struggle getting girls to school in the nightmarish heat of a "purdah bus." Other sections describe women reshaping cultural representations of gender and translating their knowledge into transformative power--in experience ranging from Florence Nightingale's silent anger in an English drawing room to military officer Halide Edip Adivar's encounter with a prostitute sent to dance for her in a Turkish village. Introductions enhance the writings with historical and biographical information, enabling the readers to see each writer in her unique situation.
Anyone who has asked what needs to change for women will find this volume indispensable. Not only do the writings show women's resistance from an historical perspective; they also offer crucial insight into questions women are posing today about the relationships between their own power, the power of the various groups to which they belong, and the larger systems of power they confront in the world around them.