Development of Feminist Thought I Slides.pdf

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Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
CAS WS 101

DEVELOPMENT OF FEMINIST THOUGHT Part I: An Intellectual History in Three Waves September 16 , 2013 !"#$%&'"()"*+%*',-"%."/0-'%&12" 34  5-6," 74  89+.," WHA T IS “FEMINISM”? Adapted from Nancy Cott’s definition in The Grounding of Modern Feminism: • Endorses sex equality, or rather opposes gender hierarchy • Posits that “women’s condition is socially constructed!.historically shaped by human social usage rather than simply predestined by God or nature.” • Opposes specialization by sex but relies on solidarity (or “sisterhood”) between women based on their common disfranchisement and social oppression. FEMINISM IN WA VES • First Wave: 1840s-1920s—The Tyranny of Mankind • Second Wave: 1960s-1980s—The Personal Is Political • Third Wave: 1990-???---Criticizing the “sisterhood of sameness”; Grrrl Power • Why is it useful to think of feminist activity as happening in “waves”? • How does the “wave” theory of feminist history constrain us? • Can be reductive • Ignores important activity between “waves” • Focuses too much on the American experience of feminism Early arguments for women’s rights: • Abigail Adams: “Remember the ladies!” • and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” [sic] • Judith Sargent Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes” (1790) • Emphasizes the importance of educating women to their innate intellectual capacity and allowing them economic independence. • Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (published in London in 1792 and shortly thereafter in the US) • Argues for the moral equality of women and emphasizes the importance of educating women beyond the domestic sphere • Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 1845 • between men and women (in which both parties are equal) would bens fulfilling and bring America into an age of “new awakening.” Clockwise from left: Abigail Adams, Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller Judith Sargent Murray, Women in the Nineteenth Century • Coverture • “In traditional English practice, at marriage a husband gained access to the body of his wife; it followed that he could easily pressure her into agreement with him on all other matters. A married woman was understood to be “covered” by her husband’s civic identity, as though they were walking together under an umbrella the husband held!.The rules of coverture made it seem logical that fathers be the guardians of the children and that husbands manage the property that wives brought into marriage and earned during it.” Linda Kerber, “The Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen. ” • Made it impossible for women to make contracts or participate in political life • Fundamentally incompatible with revolutionary ideology of life, liberty and property Women in the Nineteenth Century • The “Cult of Domesticity” (Cult of “True Womanhood”) • Imposed restrictive roles on the new white middle-class woman of antebellum America • “To be a True Woman, she must be tender and submissive, self- sacrificing, deeply religious, and untouched by sexual desire. She must be confined to home, devoted to husband and children, and eshew productive labor and the political arena. African American women, poor women, and immigrant women, compelled by poverty to work, could not be True Women; they and their families were considered unnatural, unfeeling, and sexually depraved.” (Caroll Smith Rosenberg, “Cult of Domesticity,” in The Reader’s Companion to US Women’s History, 139) • Both restricted women, and created possibilities for their entrance into the public sphere. 5$,":;,*+9-9<0&"0=">,&
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