Daughters of Aquarius
Women of the Sixties Counterculture
It was a sign of the sixties. Drawn by the promise of spiritual and creative freedom, thousands of women from white middle-class homes rejected the suburban domesticity of their mothers to adopt lifestyles more like those of their great-grandmothers. They eagerly learned "new" skills, from composting to quilting, as they took up the decade's quest for self-realization.
"Hippie women" have alternately been seen as earth mothers or love goddesses, virgins or vamps-images that have obscured the real complexity of their lives. Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo now takes readers back to Haight Ashbury and country communes to reveal how they experienced and shaped the counterculture. She draws on the personal recollections of women who were there—including such pivotal figures as Lenore Kendall, Diane DiPrima, and Carolyn Adams—to gain insight into what made counterculture women tick, how they lived their days, and how they envisioned their lives.
“A superbly crafted beginning point for further research on countercultural women and an engaging, accessible narrative.”
—American Historical Review
“An in-depth view of the experiences of young women who rejected mainstream society in the Sixties. . . . An excellent overview of the hippie phenomenon writ large.”
—American StudiesSee all reviews...
“A welcome contribution to the study of the American counterculture of the 1960s and its evolution into New Ageism thereafter.”
—The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
“ Lemke dignifies her historical actors with agency, showing the ways in which counterculture women demanded greater autonomy and control. She also makes a compelling argument that counterculture women were vitally important in spreading and normalizing the acceptance of fundamentally countercultural attitudes toward everything from Eastern philosophy and new types of spirituality to the importance of eating fresh local food.”
“A very engaging and often thought-provoking book. Acknowledging the bad rap that hip women have received from both conservative and New Left feminist critics, Lemke-Santangelo presents an alternative view, arguing that these women led the cultural revolution that has shaped much of our lives.”
—Journal of American History
“This revisionist account reclaims hippie women as architects of their own lives. Moreover, it outlines the contributions they made to the larger world. . . . Daughters of Aquarius thus offers a strong corrective to misguided conventional wisdom about hippie culture. Its greatest achievement, I think, lies in capturing the voices of the women themselves. . . . Panoramic in scope, novel in substance, and full of heart.”
—Women's Review of Books
“Brings to life the passions and strugglesand—yes—confusions of hippie women, moving beyond the stereotypes of hippie chick and earth mother to restore the women of the counterculture to their rightful place in the history of American feminism. . . . A much-needed book.”
—Beth Bailey, author of Sex in the Heartland
“Forty years later, the myths and stereotypes (particularly about women) that helped dismiss and marginalize the counterculture still prevail in the media, academia, and in our fuzzy collective national memory. Lemke-Santangelo takes a necessary step in interpreting the historical and cultural importance of hippie women. Relying on extensive primary sources, her book is realistic, sophisticated, and long overdue.”
—Roberta Price, author of Huerfano: A Memoir of Life in the CountercultureSee fewer reviews...
This is the first book to focus specifically on women of the counterculture. It describes how gender was perceived within the movement, with women taking on much of the responsibility for sustaining communes. It also examines the lives of younger runaways and daughters who shared the lifestyle. And while it explores the search for self enlightenment at the core of the counterculture experience, it also recounts the problems faced by those who resisted the expectations of "free love" and discusses the sexism experienced by women in the arts.
Lemke-Santangelo's work also extends our understanding of second-wave feminism. She argues that counterculture women, despite their embrace of traditional roles, claimed power by virtue of gender difference and revived an older agrarian ideal that assigned greater value to female productive labor. Perhaps most important, she shows how they used these values to move counterculture practices into the mainstream, helping transform middle-class attitudes toward everything from spirituality to childrearing to the environment.
Featuring photographs and poster art that bring the era to life, Daughters of Aquarius provides both an inside look at a defining movement and a needed corrective to long-held stereotypes of the counterculture . For everyone who was part of that scene—or just wonders what it was like—this book offers a new perspective on those experiences and on cultural innovations that have affected all our lives.