Breaking Free: The Lie of Equality and the Feminist Fight for Freedom (Hardcover)
A bold argument that “equality” is a racist, patriarchal ideal that perpetuates women’s systemic oppression and limits the possibilities of feminism—with a plan to transform the movement
For more than a century, women have fought for equality. Yet, time and again, their battles have fallen short. Even so-called constitutionally-protected equal rights can be withdrawn by judges and undermined by legislators. But the greater problem is in the notion of equality itself.
In Breaking Free, culture writer Marcie Bianco persuasively argues that the very concept of equality is a fallacy, an illusory goal that cannot address historic forms of discrimination and oppression. Starting with the campaign for women’s suffrage and traveling through modern history, she shows us how equality has been designed to keep women and disenfranchised communities chasing an unobtainable goal. Conditioned for generations to want equality, it has become an insidious mindset locking us into the gender binary and reductive identity politics. Bianco calls upon a long-overlooked lineage to argue that only freedom can liberate feminism from these constraints, and proposes three freedom practices for women to reclaim their bodily autonomy and power.
What happens if we free ourselves of equality? Controversial and thrilling, Breaking Free guides readers toward new hope for the future of the feminist movement.
About the Author
Marcie Bianco is a writer, editor, and cultural critic. She has written, taught, and lectured about feminism, ethics, literature, and culture for more than fifteen years. A 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, her writing has appeared at CNN, NBC Think, and Vanity Fair, among other outlets and academic publications. Bianco is a columnist at the Women’s Media Center and a SheSource expert. She currently is an editor at Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), an award-winning quarterly print magazine.
“You don’t read Marcie Bianco to cheer on the standard feminist line; you read her if you want to be intellectually challenged and philosophically engaged. Breaking Free calls into question a basic premise of feminist thought: That women should be equal. Instead, Bianco calls for something more radical and more necessary: Freedom, in all of its forms. A provocative read, Breaking Free asks us what it is, exactly, we all want and deserve.”
—Jill Filipovic, CNN columnist, author of The H-Spot
“There are many voices in the contemporary public square riffing on topics that are expansive and grand, like equality and freedom. Then there are the penetrative voices emanating from sagacious and adroit thinkers. Bianco’s is one. She is a writer who is less interested in adding noise to the discourse, and instead is focused on materializing equity and radical love. Breaking Free is an incisive read. And we are ever so ready.”—Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
“Anyone who believes equality with men is the benchmark for women’s rights, well-being, safety, or power should read this book. Bianco’s thought-provoking, myth-busting rejection of this idea, in defense of freedom as our goal, is an essential read.”
—Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her
“What I have always loved about Bianco is her extraordinary ability to make difficult concepts accessible, applicable, and even attractive to the most cynical mind. She is an immensely empathetic human being who knows how to make a common-sense argument for liberation. I cannot tell you how excited I am for the world to read this.”—Charlotte Clymer, writer, leading LGBTQ influencer, military veteran, author of the popular Substack newsletter Charlotte’s Web Thoughts
“From Beyonce to Britney, Harry Styles to Hilary Clinton, Bianco wields an agile and incisive feminist pen. In Breaking Free, Bianco insists we see the perniciousness of patriarchy and expertly maps the ways feminism can liberate us.”—Mona Eltahawy, author of The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls
“[Bianco] makes her book debut with a bold and compelling critique of feminism’s focus on equality…A cleareyed and impassioned plea for a just world.”—Kirkus
“Tenacious… Bianco succeeds in provoking thought about the limitations of equality, as well as the self-liberatory potential of an ethic of freedom when held in balance with mutuality, which Bianco characterizes as respect for others’ unique existence, and community-oriented decision-making.”—Publishers Weekly