A feminist organizer in East Central Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall reveals the struggles of women fighting for their rights during the rise of the Right in Europe
Visitors tells the story of Ann Snitow’s adventures as a Western feminist helping to build a new, post-communist feminist movement in Eastern Central Europe. Snitow stumbles onto this fast-changing, chaotic scene by chance, but falls in love with the passionate feminists she meets in Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania. What kinds of feminism should they hope for?
Visitors is a book about forging enduring relationships and creating formerly unimaginable institutions—a feminist school, the Network of East-West Women, women’s centers, gender studies programs. It is about unity amid fractiousness and perseverance through uncertainty, Snitow’s flickering lodestar. Visitors moves gracefully between vivid anecdote, political analysis, and unsparing introspection. It is richly peopled with “brilliant” comrades and vexing detractors alike, all described with respect and humor. Every sentence is imbued with the experience and insight of this sui generis feminist activist, writer, and pedagogue of 50 years. Most of all, Visitors is the story of friendship, the heart and sinew of the leaderless feminist movement.
Reading like the best historical novel, it is intimate and worldly, resolutely unsentimental yet finally, even as the political skies darken, optimistic in the conviction that feminism can make life meaningful, fascinating, fun, pleasurable—and better for everyone, even as better is redefined again and again.
"Ann Snitow’s extraordinary gifts for friendship and organizing spill off the pages of this illuminating memoir, which lights up a formerly obscure but important aspect of our history. The lucky reader gets to follow Ann and her new friends as they create a broad, potent network of feminist activists practically from scratch in the ruins of Soviet communism." ~Alix Shulman
"This is an inspired piece of personal journalism that takes us to Eastern Europe where we follow the social and political adventures, over a period of twenty five years, of one of the great feminists of the Second Wave. As Ann Snitow discovers the historic antagonism to women’s rights that marks the region, she also experiences the remarkably courageous women who are spending their lives fighting it. Richly informed, emotionally centered, beautiful written, Visitors is a book to be read by all who crave a deeper understanding of the times in which we live." ~Vivian Gornick