Contemporary feminism proves as dynamic as it is undefinable in authors Aronowitz and Bernstein's cross-country research project, Girldrive.
Both 22 years old at the start of their mammoth task researching this book, authors Aronowitz and Bernstein set out on the open road, sans fellowship or grant, to try to capture the organic identity that feminism has now. To mimic this trip, the book is organized geographically, carving up the American landscape into 12 regions. The authors interviewed many women along the way, from plus-sized burlesque dancers to Christian conservative photographers, and asked each of them what feminism means to them. One conclusion is clear: whether it’s the actress in Boston who feels it helps fight the subordination of otherness or the queer hip-hopper from Seattle who asserts, “I’m not a feminist, I’m a person,” there is no agreed-upon definition of the word. Compelling as the interviews are, the authors’ stories enrich the book as well, marking each chapter with their own narrative reactions. They document their drug use, their frustration with one another, and most bravely, their uncertainty about the success of their project. One can’t help but pay particular attention to Bernstein, who tragically took her own life before this book was published—knowing this, her questions and insights lend the work an unexpectedly urgent context. Girldrive is gutsy in its endeavor and gives agency to emerging feminist voices. In the prologue, Bernstein mentions that no one would give these young authors a book deal without seeing proof of their effort first. This work’s very publication shows how far you can go if you only have the drive.