Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

The feminists who built America

A woman poses next to separate image of book cover
Elizabeth Cobbs' latest book, "Fearless Women," tells American history through the lens of women who fought for their rights as democracy grew.
Courtesy Elizabeth Cobbs and Harvard University Press

Americans overwhelmingly support gender equality. But not as many see themselves as feminists.

Elizabeth Cobbs says that’s because we don’t know our history. Her latest book, “Fearless Women,” chronicles how the fight for women’s rights began at the founding of our country, when Abigail Adams urged her husband to “remember the ladies” (and her plea was met with laughter), and continues through today.

Cobbs argues that women’s rights and democracy itself are intertwined, that as rights were afforded to women, the country itself became stronger. Each chapter of “Fearless Women” tells the story of women who fought for a new right: the right to learn, the right to speak in public, the right to own property, and the right to vote, among others. It is a timeline of feminism in America.

This week, Cobbs joined host Kerri Miller on Big Books and Bold Ideas to talk about the freedom inherent in feminism, why it’s not partisan — despite what some insist — and why many of the women she wrote about in her book have been overlooked by history.


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