Home Books Book Review: “Formidable” by Elisabeth Griffin

Book Review: “Formidable” by Elisabeth Griffin

by Jersey Lady

Formidable: The Fight for Women and Equality in America: 1920-2020, Elizabeth Griffith


On July 16, 1998, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a crowd of 16,000 gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Women’s Rights Convention. “Imagine you are Charlotte Woodward,” preached Clinton. Sitting and sewing for hours every day…Working for a small wage and not even being able to sustain it…Knowing that if you marry, your children and even the clothes you wear will belong to your husband. In her speech, Clinton claimed to have heard echoes of her predecessors, including Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass, and that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first woman to do so. grabbed the podium not far from the Methodist Chapel, which demanded the right to vote for The church was then converted into a laundromat and car dealership, and as Clinton said, her husband, then president of the United States, had a sexual relationship with a White House intern. In a few months he will be impeached. Within a decade and a half, Hillary herself was running for president of the most powerful country in the world.

This snapshot presents the merits of a compelling, relevant, and sweeping chronicle of the fight for women’s equality in the United States. Examining her 100-year history through a feminist lens reveals a pattern. – Aimed and calculated retaliation from an American woman.

Books on true feminist history are rare. It is still rare for these histories to cross. Feminist history tends to be synonymous with white women’s history. Not this book. Griffiths provides a multi-ethnic and comprehensive timeline of the struggles and triumphs of both black and white women in America. (Her previous book centered around the life of Cady Stanton.) Despite hard-to-find archival sources, Griffiths said, “As many I named a woman from

A profoundly enlightening tour de force, Griffith’s book begins with Susan B. Anthony and unfolds chronologically, grouped into chapters that follow the “pink” timeline of history. “Fifty years ago, when women’s history was struggling for legitimacy in academia, feminists divided American history into ‘blue’ and ‘pink’ timelines. A panel at the conference debated whether Zachary Taylor’s presidency was more about women’s lives than the invention of the tin can, or whether Jackson’s democracy deserved a chapter when the suffrage campaign wasn’t. Discussed.

“Formidable” is organized around key battles such as voting rights, working conditions, access to education, health care, racial violence, reproductive rights, race and sexism, wage disparity, election offices, and more. I’m here. In this extensive investigation, Griffith tends to examine every motive of his subjects as he unearths long-buried Cross Archives. Most notable is her articulation of malignant dysfunction, as women struggle to find a unified and inclusive path to equality. “White women have always been complicit in slavery,” she says.

Griffiths is adept at examining each feminist cause and the downsides that come with it, starting with the first Women’s Rights Convention that caused friction between abolitionists and feminists. “Women are a complex cohort,” she wrote. “The impetus for women’s rights came from the abolition movement. Enslaved African Americans suffered, struggled, and thwarted the system. While white women were not exposed to the physical and sexual terrors suffered by enslaved women, their own physical vulnerabilities and legal subordination prompted comparisons. I got

Yes, suffragists fought for equality, but loyalty with abolitionists was elusive. “White women wanted the same rights as white men. Black women wanted the same rights as white citizens. Their movement was never just a women’s movement.” When Griffith doesn’t skim a spot. Rather, she understands her assignment: all are invited, but no one is off the hook.

There’s power in Griffith’s writing — not in her factual and candid style, but in the cumulative efforts of the hundreds, if not thousands, of characters she’s acknowledged. The sheer scope of the book is overwhelming, as you hear “We Didn’t Start a Fire” (information, names and actions, protests and fire hoses in pantsuits). Ida B. Wells and Eleanor Roosevelt . Rosie the Riveter and Rosa Parks. Josephine Baker and Aretha Franklin. Ella Baker and Flo Kennedy. The irritation of Miss America and Phyllis Schlafly. Title VII. 19th Amendment. Law vs Wade. Anita Hill, Alix Cates Shulman, Dolores Huerta, and the National Farm Workers Union. Fannie Lou Hammer. Angela Davis and Alicia Garcia. Women’s soccer and black bra. Patrice Colors. Tamika Mallory Carmen Perez. Linda Sasur. Bob Brand. The result was the emergence of a long-awaited monument to women’s freedom fighters and a set of instructions for future generations.

The reader is therefore carried by the story and the lesson, not by the narrator. Success comes not from short-term manic efforts, but from constantly carrying the torch. As America sinks deeper into paralysis and polarization, Griffith’s nuanced and accessible research shows that victory is born through the miracle of cooperation. Not by factional division, but by unity and perseverance. Feminist history is written daily, and Griffith, as always, reminds us that there is still much work to be done. , reactionary retweets, and the occasional protest wearing a pink knit hat. Feminist activism must be continuous and unified, a long and stable lifelong commitment that continues to propel the movement.

“Formidable” is a shock, a lesson, a reminder that if you want to persevere, you must be ready to start over and over again.


Mila Putasin is the author of the memoir Poor Your Soul and the feminist history The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna. She teaches at her Colby College and teaches incarcerated women at the Maine Correctional Center.


Formidable: The Fight for Women and Equality in America: 1920-2020, Elizabeth Griffith | | Illustrations | Page 493 | ​​Pegasus | Pegasus $35

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