Mapping feminism

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Girldrive inspires readers to get behind the wheel and make change

Two years ago, best friends and daughters of second-wave feminism, Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein climbed into the front seat of a Chevy Cavalier and criss-crossed the United States, talking to more than a hundred young women along the way. The end result of their inspirational journey is Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism, a non-fiction book that looks and reads like a magazine, coupling Aronowitz's critical prose with Bernstein's vibrant photography.

Aronowitz and Bernstein embarked on their journey with an equally intriguing third character-the road. Like Jack Kerouac and Thelma and Louise before them, Aronowitz and Bernstein took the ultimate road trip, meeting interesting characters along the way. Readers meet policy-makers, activists and artists, all eager to share their stories.

Similar to Thelma and Louise's ill-fated road trip, Aronowitz and Bernstein's journey is sandwiched between tragedies. The project began over brunch and bloody marys just a couple of weeks after Aronowitz's mother, feminist writer and activist Ellen Willis, died of lung cancer. Shortly after their journey ended, Bernstein, who suffered from depression, "feeling everything like a stab in the heart," committed suicide.

But what happened between these two tragedies is a truly awe-inspiring tale of friendship and feminism. Conversational, witty, and often thought-provoking, Girldrive gives readers a glimpse into the lives of 127 savvy women, including well-known feminist icons such as Kathleen Hanna and Andi Zeisler.

However, not all the women in Girldrive define themselves as feminist, which was part of Aronowitz and Bernstein's goal of profiling subjects with diverse backgrounds of varying gender, race, class and religion.

More than anything, Girldrive inspires readers to define feminism and womanhood for themselves, inevitably making them feel the urge to make a mixed CD of their favourite tracks and get behind the wheel, ready to change the world.--Jessica Rose

This review first appeared in McClung's Magazine.

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