Review of Passionate Politics: The Life and Times of Charlotte Bunch
By Mary Hawkesworth

An Interview with Sharon La Cruise
By Anne Keefe

Review of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock
By Zoë Burkholder


Charlotte Bunch with organizers from Triangle Project, South Africa. Image used with permission.

  issue 4.2 |  

Journal Issue 4.2


Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch. Directed by Tami Gold. New York, NY: AndersonGold Films, Inc, 2011. 58 minutes.

Review by Mary Hawkesworth

Winner of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights (1999) and inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (1996), Charlotte Bunch is known internationally for the breadth of her commitment to social justice and the depth of her transformative work. Passionate Politics succeeds admirably both in capturing Bunch's multifaceted activism and portraying the excitement of the global women's rights movement over the past half century. From a childhood shaped by her family's dedication to "activism as good works," the film traces the evolution of a renowned feminist theorist and strategist who has played a critical role in forging a global activist network to secure United Nations recognition of "women's rights as human rights." The film provides classic insights into the transformative effects of consciousness raising accomplished through painful and recurring encounters with inequities. Illuminating the complexities of the "personal as political," Bunch's life moved from participation in integrated "pray-ins" organized by the Methodist Student Movement at Duke University to a break with the Christian religion because of its rampant homophobia. Inspired by Black Nationalism, she helped found The Furies, a lesbian feminist separatist collective after years of sexist denigration within New Left organizations such as the Institute for Policy Studies. Rejecting the narrow vision of straight feminists who denounced "the lavender menace," and later, exclusionary separatist tactics, Bunch championed a "symphony of revolutions," seeking to build coalitions among feminists who struggled to improve the life prospects of half the human race, anti-racist activists who fought to end all forms of racial and ethnic injustice, and gay and lesbian activists mobilized to achieve equal rights and recognition. As a street demonstrator, a strategic organizer, a teacher, a writer, a consultant in court cases, and founder of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, Bunch forged alliances with activists in Latin America, Africa, South and East Asia, and Europe, advancing an analysis of power relations that linked structural inequities to physical brutalities under the broad rubric of violence against women. Following Bunch's footsteps from Bangkok to Peru to Nairobi to Vienna to Beijing to South Africa (and many places beyond), Passionate Politics contains remarkable film footage of the global struggle to change the world by ending women's servility. Challenging the assumptions of this "postfeminist" era, the film documents the vibrancy of contemporary transnational feminist activism and catalogues the manifold forms of injustice that feminists continue to contest.

Mary Hawkesworth is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.




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