Week 12



PRIM. C.P. Gilman,
Women and Economics [Binder: Primary]
SEC. McGerr, Michael "Political Style and Women's Power 1830-1930,"
Journal of American History 77 (Dec. 1990): 864-85 [Binder:Sec]
Cott, "What's in a Name?"[on social feminism],
Journal of American History 76 (1989): 809-29 [Binder: Sec.]
Berkin, C."Charlotte P. Gilman," in
Portraits of American Women , ed. Barker-Benfield and C. Clinton [Binder: Sec]
REC.Carl Degler,
At Odds, chs. 14-15
Sara Evans,
Born for Liberty , ch. 7
William O'Neill,
Everyone Was Brave (1969), chs. 1-5
Nancy Cott,
Grounding of Modern Feminism, chs. 1-2
Aileen Kraditor,
Ideas of the Woman's Suffrage Movement (1965)

1. This week will cover three varieties of feminism in the progressive era, keeping in mind that all such labels are arbitrary and hence problematic.
(a) "social Feminism". Term coined O'Neill
Everyone Was Brave
Association of Collegiate Alumni (1882)
General Federation of Women's Clubs (1969)
Social Settlements
National Consumer's League (1st NYC 1890)
National Women's Trade Union League (1903)
WCTU - Anti-saloon League
(b) suffragism
(i) 1869 15th amendment battle causes split: (a)National Women's Suffrage Assn. : Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton); (b) American Women Suffrage Assn. (Henry W. Beecher, Lucy Stone)
(ii) 1890 National Association of Women's Suffrage NAWSA; President Stanton (to 1892); Anthony (1900-d.1906); Carrie C. Catt (1906-)
(iii) Congressional Union [CU] 1914- . Later the Women's Party
(c) radical ("hard-core") feminism [note: the terminology here is less precise than in recent history where a sharper distinction is drawn between "radical" and "socialist"]
M. Carey Thomas (1857-1935) (Martha Carey) b. Baltimore, Md., Jan. 2, 1857, d. Dec. 2, 1935
Emma Goldman (1869-1940)
Crystal Eastman (1991-1928)
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, b. July 3, 1860, d. Aug. 17, 1935
*HISTORIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: discuss ways in which this threefold division corresponds to 3-fold pattern we noted in progressivism generally, whether conceived in the "pluralist" coalition model (Buenker) or the "languages" approach (Rodgers)
1. informal, voluntary association = language of community
2. politics (when informal appears inadequate). Language of "individual rights" and anti(male) monopoly).
3. efficiency --liberation (cf. Taylor on the one hand, and Bourne on the other. This parallel to be developed especially for CP Gilman.
2. To put in perspective, look at progressive era feminism in context of successive waves of organized feminism in U.S. history. (Discuss strengths and limits of following conceptualization:
a. First" : 1830s-1869 (Seneca Falls 1848, 15th amendment 1869). Legal with secondary emphasis political (suffrage)
b. second 1890-1918 (formation of National Women's Suffrage Association [NAWSA) to 19th Amendment. Primarily political with some emphasis on economic (Gilman,
Women and Economics)
c. Third 1961-present; economic (to increasingly emphasis on social/ cultural. "Liberal" feminism of ca, 1961-68 emphasized economic rights; "radical" introduced cultural elements 1968-1970s, with variations in "socialist" "psychoanalytic" and other versions of feminism into the 1980s. (see file Feminism. 1920- in this folder for detailed outline of varieties of feminism over the past two decades)
3. Any such conceptualization raises the question how to define "feminism."
a. earlier drew distinction between "women's rights" and "feminism." According to Nancy Cott,
The grounding of American Feminism the later terms did not come into use until the 1910s. But during the 1960s this distinction broke down as feminism was the term appropriated by those espousing positions across the political spectrum: "liberal," "Radical;," "socialist," "Marxists," "psychoanalytic" feminism etc.
b Cott, "What's in a Name?",
Journal of American History 76 (1989): 809-29 suggests some of the problems and a way out.
(i) problem is that organizations often overlapped
(ii) thus us should distinguish "feminist" (critique of male supremacy and determination to change it); from "female" (socially constructed out of common tasks) and "communal" (activity based on a solidarity with a race, class, or other group).

I. Changing conditions for women 1890-1920. (Review of factors already discussed in the course). In light of changing patterns of work, education, marriage-family-divorce, reproduction etc. would you say that the women's movement of the progressive era was a response to worsening conditions, improved conditions or some combination thereof? Cf. recent decades
*explore what Sara Evans,
Born for Liberty p. 162 calls "paradoxes of modernity": "The power of scientific thought, bureaucratic organization, and professional expertise--all key signals of modernity--may have liberated individuals but it also corroded communal bonds and voluntary association. This paradox changed the meaning of many "achievements' and 'advances' won by women during the years at the turn of the century, empowering individuals while undermining the sources of female solidarity."
a. employment
(I) middle class women
(ii) working class [review Peiss argument)
b. education : explore opportunity/limits as evidenced in Addams, "Gibson Girl" (Gordon)
c. sexual revolution
d. consumerism
**examination of Ida Harper document [to be distributed in class]
II. "Social Feminism.
" What is "social feminism" (O'Neill) and what has it to do with feminism? Were all the groups O'Neill lists as "social feminist" actually "feminist" by Cott's definition (e.g. Jane Addams). Was the entire movement based on assumptions of woman's spirituality and special virtues, that ultimately played it false? What were its accomplishments (see notes on Lemons, Woman Citizen below )

III. Suffragism
* Questions
a. Was the decision to narrow women's demands to the vote a reflection of nativist and anti-working class sentiments on the part of the woman's movement (Kraditor)?
b. Or did it in an important sense represent a new, and potentially radical recognition of woman's "individuality" (Dubois, Degler); or
c. should we examine not the substance but the style of suffragist agitation Detailed analysis of McGerr, Michael "Political Style and Women's Power 1830-1930,"
Journal of American History 77 (Dec. 1990): 864-85 [Binder:Sec]
d. what were the consequences of obtaining the suffrage. Cf. Alpern, s. and Baum, D. "Female Ballots and the Import of the 19th Amendment,"
J. Interdisciplinary History 16 (s. 1985): 43-67; and Kleppner, Paul. "Were Women to Blame? Female Suffrage and Voter Turnout, J. Interdisciplinary History 12 (1982), 621-643.
IV. Radical (socialist) feminism
A. Charlotte P. Gilman

V. WWI , and the Decline of Feminism 1920-1940s
*considerable disagreement on how much, let alone why.
(i) Through the 1960s, most historians argued (or assumed) that the grant of the vote not only failed to produce promised changes, but signalled the end of pre-war agitation for women's rights. William O'Neill's verdict in
Everyone Was Brave summed up the case: "The struggle for woman's rights ended during the 1920s, leaving men in clear possession of the commanding places in American life."[1]
(ii) In
The Woman Citizen (1973), J. Stanley Lemons insisted that "social feminism" was and remained a vital force, finally providing a link between progressivism and the New Deal. "If. . . feminism 'failed," Lemons wrote, "the tombstone will have to bear another date, perhaps the 1930s or 1940s."[2] Pushing this date forward, Susan Ware in Beyond the New Deal (1981) identified a network of women who, if not active in fighting for feminist issues during the 1930s, played an important role in shaping and implementing New Deal programs.
(iii) Adding an important twist to this debate, Nancy Cott in
The Grounding of Modern Feminism (1987)
*thesis has several parts
a. the term "feminism" in fact first came into general use in the 1910s, just as the phrase "the woman movement" was starting to sound archaic if not downright ungrammatical. This shift proved crucial. Although narrower in its appeal, feminism was "broader in intent" than suffragism or the movement for women's rights in that it proclaimed "revolution in all the relations of the sexes." This new consciousness embodied paradoxes that were relatively invisible in the earlier struggles: sexual equality
with sex differences; individual freedoms to be gained and enjoyed through sexual solidarity; diversity among woman and a recognition of a basic unity. But its very existence revealed the beginning of a new era, not simply the end of an old.[3]
b. the "feminism" managed to combine (harmonize) the paradox of individual rights and group solidarity. This "feminism" has socialist/labor connections as well as a sense of personal/sexual fulfillment. Politically it was helped by the growing importance of the "interest group" which saw the vote (individual) as helping the group.
c. During the 1910s, the Congressional Union and Women's Party "provided organizational outlet for feminist suffragists"
d. But the National Women's Party (Alice Paul) again narrowed the focus, focusing organizationally on equal rights, [and thus broke] feminist connections with sexual rights and social revolution, and replaced Feminism's attack on gender categories with insistence on legal equality.
(iv) Two other historians have argued further that organized feminism remained a vital force, if diminished in numbers, through the 1950s. See Rupp, Leila J. and Taylor, Verta.
Survival in the Doldrums: The American Women's Rights Movement, 1945 to the 1960s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
**If the Mark Twain-like death of feminism was thus "greatly exaggerated," there remains a need to explain why prewar hopes were not fulfilled during the twenties and thirties, even if the old impulses took new forms or sought new channels. Although no single explanation will suffice, several at least remain arguable
A. Flapperism. Prewar feminists, instead of attacking prevailing definitions of femininity, traded on and hence strengthened these stereotypes, ironically paving the way for the "flapper" whose lifestyle they probably disapproved, and eventually for the "feminine mystique" of the forties and fifties.
* discuss with reference to argument of Ehrenreich
Hearts of Men.
B. Ethnicity and class cut against gender, not only by alienating middleclass WASP activists from potential allies among working women and new immigrants,[4] but in being more important than gender to would-be feminists among the children of these immigrants
C. Professionalization/Bureaucratization.
1. Statistics. In terms of numbers, the picture was one of increasing opportunity through the early twenties, followed by gradual decline thereafter, precisely the time the generation of 1900 was coming of age. By the early 1930s, as William Chafe noted in
American Women , journalists were sounding an obituary for the "vanishing race of pioneer women" of the prewar years. In her discussion of the issue, Nancy Cott has detailed this decline. The percentage of employed women classified as professional rose from 8.2% in 1900 to 14.2% in 1930. The group of "professional and kindred" workers was 40% female when the total work force was only 20% female. But these figures as stated are misleading. Three-fourths of the increase in female professionals before 1920 was the result of the expansion of teaching and nursing. the traditional male professions, especially after 1920, witnessed set-backs for women in varying proportions. In academia, for example, women made up 30% of college faculties by the 1910s (many, of course, in women's colleges). But by the late 1920s, virtually every index of female participation was down: the proportion of women students, of Ph.D.s, and of faculty members. "[The] high point in woman's share of professional employment (and attainment of advanced degrees) overall occurred by the late 1920s, and was followed by stasis and/or decline not reversed to any extent until the 1960s and 1970s., " Cott concluded. "[5]
2. The effects of professionalization
. Although more difficult to gauge, are also generally agreed to have worked against feminist activism. In The Woman Citizen , Lemons wrote: "One marked effect of the developing professionalism among women was a decline in social concern and an increase in narrowly professional issues." An apparent exception was the support professional women gave to the E.R.A.--apparent, because this support was out of self-interest and bred a split within the woman's movement that persisted for decades.[6] Without supporting this interpretation, Cott added that the suffrage movement "temporarily masked the ongoing trend for women in professions to dissociate their vocational aims from aims of women as a group." The professional "angle of vision" was thus "counterproductive to feminist practice." But, she added, since individual success in a career was one aim of the woman's rights crusade, the question remains whether this development should be seen as the fulfillment or exhaustion of feminism. [7]
Far less explored is the related issue of what attracted women to the professions. Money, prestige, and the promise of doing useful work--the same things that attracted men --are obvious if only partial answers. Another is the fact that entry into the professions typically required neither extensive capital (as in business) or public clout through the the vote (as in politics). Finally, as Cott again has noted, the professional emphasis on reason, scientific standards, and objectivity "constituted an alternative to subjectively determined sex standards."
3. Bureaucratization compounds
. scientific objectivity translated into group research, financed by large, bureaucratically organized foundations, could women social scientists function as effectively as in the age of individual scholarship, even those who chose to compete?
Note: on interrelationship. Speculate on relation between ethnicity, professionalization, and bureaucratization.
D. Intellectual Climate

E. Depression Backlash.Women were victimized by a backlash that was often strongest in the area where they had made the greatest gains, a backlash that assumed epidemic proportions during the Depression of the thirties.[9]

1. O'Neill, Everyone Was Brave p. vii.
2. Stanley Lemons,
The Woman Citizen (Urbana, Ill. , 1973) ,p. vii.
3. Nancy Cott,
The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, 1987), ch. 1.
4. Aileen Kraditor,
The Ideas of the Womans' Suffrage Movement (New York, 1965).
5. Cott,
Grounding, pp. 218, 220.
6. Lemons,
The Woman Citizen , pp. 41, 199-205.
7. Cott,
Grounding, pp. 233, 237, 239.
8. Cott,
Grounding, p. 216.
9. For example, Lemons,
The Woman Citizen, ch. 9.