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Don’t miss this book about women’s liberation battles

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Misbehaving recounts the 1970 Miss World protest in the words of those who made it happen. Sarah Bates says the book offers inspirational insights
Issue 2732
Misbehaving recalls the spirit of the Womens Liberation Movement
Misbehaving recalls the spirit of the Women’s Liberation Movement

Misbehaving is the story of the women involved in the protest against the Miss World beauty pageant in 1970.

Activists Sue Finch, Jenny Fortune, Jane Grant, Jo Robinson and Sarah Wilson share their experience of the protest and its impact on their lives.

Woven into their stories are accounts from other activists involved with the emerging Women’s Liberation Movement of the early 1970s.

They’re accompanied by a series of illustrations that ran through women’s liberation literature and some brilliant photographs from Sally Fraser.

Those that cover the first women’s conference at Ruskin College, Oxford, in 1970, are particularly interesting.

The contributions read like a potted history of the British protest movement over the last fifty years.

The activists are involved in anti-Vietnam war activity, anti-apartheid demonstrations and the Greenham Common anti-nuclear protest camp. They also fight in campaigns against racism and for public services.

The fight for women’s freedom 50 years ago
The fight for women’s freedom 50 years ago
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Some of the most interesting stories come from what the women did next. An extraordinary number squatted buildings and set up local nurseries, and campaigned for public services so women could work and parent at the same time.

It’s inspirational, especially at a time when childcare is privatised, stripped back and inaccessible to vast swathes of women.

This book is a timely reminder that direct action works.

What Misbehaving really gets across is how transformative the experience was for those involved.

Just being able to speak about the reality of their lives in a women’s group felt like a revelatory and radical act.

And the joy of protesting at Miss World—“the most exaggerated example of women being judged like cattle”—really shines through.

For young people today, it’s hard to imagine that Miss World was such a spectacle.

It drew in hundreds of millions of viewers when it was shown on TV.

It’s so interesting to hear the voices of working class women who are at the forefront of struggle. And Misbehaving shows us that it’s right to protest against the sexist industries that objectify and degrade us.

Misbehaving, printed by Merlin Press, is out now.
Online book launch hosted by ­Bookmarks bookshop, Friday 27 November. For details go to bit.ly/MisbehavingBookLaunch

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