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MAKERS Moment

Buried Ambition

Buried Ambition

More From Susan

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Brownmiller describes her parents' varying ideas about women's ambition and the delay in recognizing her own.

Susan's Biography

Best advice ever received: “The sooner you recognize your ambitions, the better off you will be.”
First job: Waitressing in the Catskills.
Proudest Accomplishment: “Changing the discourse on rape”
Birth Sisters: She shares her birthday – February 15th – with one of feminist hero Susan B. Anthony.

Susan Brownmiller is an author and feminist activist, best known for her groundbreaking book Against Her Will: Men, Women, and Rape, which helped modernize attitudes towards the rape and placed it in the broader context of pervasive gender oppression. In 1995, the New York Public Library selected Against Her Will as one of the 100 most important books of the 20th century.
 
Brownmiller was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Cornell University for two years but did not graduate, instead moving back to New York City to become an actress. After appearing in a handful of plays she switched careers and became a journalist. Over the next two decades she wrote and edited at several of the country’s most prominent publications, including Newsweek.
 
By the mid-1970s she had also become a widely respected radical feminist. She organized the highly visible sit-in at the Ladies Home Journal. The publication of Against Her Will in 1978 catapulted her to the forefront of the movement and it became a widely-read classic. Today she is regarded as one of the most important American social thinkers of her time. In addition to Against Her Will, Brownmiller has written several other books—fiction as well as non-fiction.

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