This chapter will concentrate on the early years of radical feminism in Britain and Europe from 1967 to around 1975. It wasn’t that Second Wave feminism died in 1975 — in many ways it was just getting really established and becoming rooted in the popular consciousness and in academe — yet, nonetheless, the heady period of activism was on the wane and intra-feminist groupings were becoming more clearly demarcated than they had been. One chapter alone could not do justice to the history of radical feminism, even over these eight years; instead I intend to focus on what brought feminists together from other political movements and what they sought from a new kind of politics. The intention is to set up a context in which the fiction discussed in the following three chapters can be placed, and also to give a vivid enough snap-shot of early Second Wave feminism even for those new to the topic. Second Wave feminism, as will rapidly become clear, emerged from the energies of small groups of women disaffected with their male peers in civil rights and New Left movements; the early writings are exploratory, often full of anger and incredibly bold in their identifications of the world’s wrongs.
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