A History of Women in the West Vol IV: Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War by Geneviève Fraisse & Michelle Perrot (edd) - review by Jessica Mann

Jessica Mann

Will Appeal Even to Anti-Wimmin Readers

A History of Women in the West Vol IV: Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War


Harvard University Press 660pp £23.95 order from our bookshop

Long preceding the expression ‘politically correct’, the etymologically incorrect herstory became the extremist feminist substitute for history. More howler than neologism, the objectionable word never caught on, but it did neatly express the fact that most so-called history was in fact the story of men’s lives.

Adjusting that imbalance has been a growth industry during the last twenty-five years, as the bibliography of this book reveals. Almost every reference in its sixty-four pages, other than those to the original documents, is to a book or article published after 1970. These are the result of the realisation, during the revival of feminism in the 1960s, that history as we knew it was defined and written by men; even social history (as opposed to political history, which must inevitably be dominated by Dead White European Males) was based on the assumption that men’s experiences were more significant than those of the female majority of the human race.

Here is an authoritative corrective. This is volume IV of A History of Women in the West, the first volume of which was called From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints. It contains twenty-two articles by different authors and covers the period from the French Revolution to the outbreak of the

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