MAKERS Profile

Susan Brownmiller

Author, "Against Our Will"

In this video

Tagged as

Susan Brownmiller on her groundbreaking history of rape which helped transform attitudes and laws to finally protect victims.
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.

More From Susan

Giving it a Name
Giving a name to sexual harassment was the first step in combatting it, as Brownmiller explains.

Church Sex Abuse
Brownmiller comments on how her movement to change attitudes and laws about rape, migrated to victims of sex abuse in the Church.

Ladies Home Journal Sit-in
Brownmiller describes the highly publicized Ladies Home Journal sit-in she helped organize in 1970.

Beyond Rescue
Brownmiller explains why she believes the word "feminist" is beyond rescue.

Swing Right
Brownmiller points to Roe v. Wade and Reagan's election as having catalyzed, then consolidated, a conservative pushback against the women's movement.

Civil Rights Surprise
Brownmiller confesses her shock at the indifference to women's equality shown by her male peers in the Civil Rights Movement.

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