Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why I'm a Feminist, Part Two: History

It would be impossible to identify the exact starting date of the feminist movement in the United States. History’s causes and effects are complex and deep rooted. Further, women have always contributed to history, even if not in the forefront. And keep in mind that there are layers of race, class, religion, nationality and other factors that complicate this history even more. So here is an incomplete list of feminist history landmarks in America’s story:


The women’s rights movement came in waves in the U.S., starting in full swing in the 1840s. Building on their platform as abolitionists, women spoke publicly about the need for women’s rights and held the Seneca Falls Convention in NY in 1848. The women and men present at this conference (organized by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) signed the Declaration of Sentiments , modeled after the Declaration of Independence, detailing specific rights they felt that women deserved.

It wasn’t until 1920 that women received the right to vote, after a long and sometimes violent battle. Since the inception of the United States, female citizens voiced their desire to speak their minds through the ballot (for example, First Lady Abigail Adams, who wrote to her husband reminding him to “remember the ladies”). Women donned the popular “Votes for Women” banners, consistently pestered the government, and educated the public on the need for women’s suffrage. “Forward out of darkness, forward into light,” goes the slogan of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and it paid off.

Jump ahead to the 1960s and 1970s when the women’s movement took the country by storm. Male-bashing, sexual liberation, anti-discrimination, workers, political, and reproductive rights along with organizations such as NOW took center stage. Crazy protests such as crowning a sheep Miss America in 1969 terrified the general public. Most women were lumped into one of two categories: the submissive housewife or the radical feminist. Feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s pushed for legislation to ensure their equal rights and openly displayed their cause.

Check out Sara Evans' Born for Liberty for a good overview of U.S. women's history. Also, the LOC has a pretty good timeline of women's history in America.

Stay tuned for a discussion of how this history has contributed to what feminism is today…

7 comments:

Phil said...

Thanks for the highlights; I look forward to more reflections!

Ashlee Liddell said...

I thought about this post today when I had a student ask me if any of the wisemen (in the Christmas story) were women.... such thought and analyzation... we are making progress, don't you think?

APN said...

I always enjoy learning from you, no matter what the context or the form of media. Whether in print, online, through bibliography, via booktrading, or in conversation, your insight and friendship are truly appreciated.

LK said...

ashlee... i am sure there were wisewomen and how great that your little ones are taking part!

LK said...

nap...can we add cooking to that list?? :)

Tmproff said...

I think that I'll add that you challenge me to no end. Sometimes it frustrates me, but it ALWAYS helps me to grow. I cannot thank you enough for that.

BTW, get better soon :P

APN said...

Yes, we can certainly add cooking to that list. Though, I'm not quite sure you can call what we do "cooking", but we certainly do try!