The best antidote to feminist despair is knowledge of our own history. With each new skirmish in the gender wars, feminists fall into greater despair. We lose so often that we forget how greatly we have transformed American political culture. Feminist issues, once dismissed as “women’s problems,” have entered national mainstream politics where they have become a litmus test for both right and left. Our victory is that we have politicized women’s experiences and forced the nation to debate them.
Media hype, however, only confirms our worst fears that an anti-feminist backlash is ubiquitous. I still remember the despair I felt after the Senate voted to confirm Clarence Thomas for a seat on the Supreme Court. For hours I couldn’t shake my sense of disbelief. Then I did what I always do when the present becomes too excruciating. I imagined how I would interpret these events if I were a historian looking back from the vantage point of 2075. It is an experiment that pulls me out of despair, recharges my intellect, and allows me to analyze contemporary events in historical perspective....
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