Eastman was an ardent, expressive, athletic child born into an extraordinary American family. And when she grew into adulthood herself, she both lived and advocated a politics of private life as daring as her public agenda.
Eastman was the only daughter of two ordained Congregationalist ministers—both feminists. Her father, although prone to debilitating bouts of illness and mental distress, was a quiet source of strength when it came to supporting the women in his life. Still, it was her mother, Annis Ford Eastman, who loomed largest in her daughter’s life. And her brother, the writer and editor Max Eastman, was in many respects her true mate, the most bonded lifelong companion she ever had.
Marriages and Children
Eastman was a daring voice in the politics of private life. Divorced in 1916 after her husband’s infidelity, she refused alimony, telling newspapers across the country that “marriage is a link, not a handcuff” and “no self-respecting feminist would accept alimony” – “it is a relic [and] would be her admission that she can’t take care of herself.” 1