Just For You: Book Groups

  1. Thought Questions (Download pdf)
    1. Do you like Bella Abzug?  How would you have related to Bella – or how did you, if you lived through her era?  To what extent would Bella be YOUR leader and spokesperson?
    2. Where are the connections between Bella Abzug’s times and our own?  Which of her issues are still relevant today and how have they changed in the intervening time?
    3. How did Bella Abzug deal with set backs and failures, and how did she use her failures to move toward the next steps?
    4. The personal becomes political – How did Bella Abzug’s personal life inform her public life and vice-verse?
      1. Inspiration and motivation from her childhood, religion, and education.
      2. Martin Abzug: A model for the political spouse.
      3. Growing up with Bella Abzug: how Bella’s work affected her daughters.
      4. Bella’s circle of friends: the porous boundary between personal and professional
    5. The force of personality in public life – How did Bella Abzug’s personality serve her well, and how did she compensate for it when it did not?
    6. What in our society today would change the way a modern day Bella Abzug operates, and how would she have to adjust to be effective?
      1. Rise of the right wing and fundamentalism of all sorts
      2. Technology
      3. Changing demographics, and increasing multiplication and fragmentation of identity
    7. Who are today’s Bella Abzugs, and how are they similar to and different from the historical Bella?

  2. In Their Own Words: Quotes for Discussion (Download pdf)
    1. “I wanted to be a lawyer.  I was serious about it.  I was in love, and decided to get married.  I was serious about that.  I thought I would like to have children.  I was serious about that.  So I never felt I couldn’t have it all.  I do not feel guilty.  I did my best.  Maybe it wasn’t the best.” (Bella  Abzug p.31)
    2. “I began to realize that my response to her [Bella Abzug] was my problem, not hers.  If I was afraid to see Bella being a whole person, anger and all, that was because I was still afraid to be a whole person myself. (Gloria Steinem p. 70)
    3. “Intellectually she [Bella Abzug] was already there [supporting gay rights], as she used to tell us interminably, ‘Before either you or my daughters fell in love with a woman, I was for gay rights.’  On the other hand, she literally could say to me at a certain time, ‘Both my girls, where did I go wrong?’” (Robin Morgan p. 257)
    4. “Nobody is doing the Bella Abzug work.” (Maxine Waters as quoted by June Zeitlin p. 237)
    5. “We were lucky.  We lived at a critical point in history, and so what we did hit the wave of history just right….I miss Bella.  We might have gone in slightly different directions, but she was a vital force.  When we were on the same side, which we usually were, she was a very good partner, very alive.  It was sort of a love/hate relationship.  God you’d think there wasn’t room for two of us, but it turned out there was.” (Betty Friedan p. 143)