Sinister Wisdom

Sinister Wisdom, 93, Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94Sinister Wisdom, 93, Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94 by Julie R. Enszer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was cruising the Internet, earlier this summer, looking for any kind of local bookstores. That I know of, my county only has one small used bookstore and a Barnes and Noble. I try to keep an eye out for independent bookstores that sell new books but none have cropped up. Then, I found a feminist bookstore that is an hour away and in another county.

Hmmmm Road trip?


Not likely.

At least, I kept thinking that I’d go but then find a ton of reasons to not go. I decided the best thing to do would be to order some books and go pick them up, which happens to be an option. This is when I happened across Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Lesbian Literary & Art Journal. The subtitle is what really grabbed my attention: Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94.


The South has a lesbian-feminist history? Wait…what’s a herstory?

I ordered the journal along with a book by Virginia Wolfe and a few days later I was bound for what turned out to be a very tiny bookstore that seems to be a major asset to the local community. I’m not sure that I will go back but I’ll probably try to support it in some way.

On to the journal.

Sinister Wisdom was founded in 1976 and is currently published out of Berkeley, California four times a year (I’m not sure if it was founded in California). It is “a multicultural, multi-class, lesbian space. We seek to open, consider and advance the exploration of community issues. We recognize the power of language to reflect our diverse experiences and to enhance our ability to develop critical judgement, as lesbians evaluating our comity and our world” (from inside front cover).

This particular issue, 93, concentrates on The South from 1968-94 in the form of collected interviews, poems, song lyrics, memoirs, and supplement information that can be accessed via a QR code or special web address listed at the end of certain sections. I will admit that I didn’t check out all of the supplement information but I was surprised by what I read.


I lived in Florida from about 1975-93, when I joined the Navy and left for 20 years and then returned after I retired. I had no idea of the things that were going on just 40 miles from my home. From health centers to the North Forty to peace marches and women’s shelters, it’s all here straight from some of the people that participate or founded it. It is fascinating. The articles are easy to read and filled with personal stories and emotions from the writers.

The only thing that tripped me up was the use of herstory or womyn in some places. I had never seen this practice before and I can only guess as to why it was done. It is possible that it’s a generational thing as I’ve read other feminist material that promised not to use the word “herstory.” I am actually having problems typing this review as my iMac keeps changing it to her story (grrrrr). This wasn’t a distraction from the work, just something that made me go hmmmmm.

You can find more about Sinister Wisdom (and order copies) at

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