Feminism as Life's Work
Four Modern American Women through Two World Wars
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book and the four women in it have traveled with me for many years, and I have had the unique opportunity to consider the topics raised here—love, sex, marriage, motherhood, work, feminism—from my own evolving vantage points over time. ...
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Middle-class, highly educated, and white, the quartet of women profiled in this book are an elite group, but they offer insights into the transformations taking place in the lives of middle-class American women in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. The post–World War I disillusionment, revolution in manners and morals, and changing understanding of love, sex, and commitment ...
Chapter 1. Planting the Seeds
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The years 1880 to 1920 saw dramatic changes in America. The nation was transformed from a rural economy and landscape to an urban, industrialized one. By 1900 almost two-thirds of working Americans no longer labored on farms but in offices, factories, stores, or banks; on railroads or in the trades; and the nation’s population was increasingly concentrated in the cities.1 ...
Chapter 2. Setting the Stage
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Mary Beard, Inez Irwin, and Doris Stevens joined the American woman suffrage movement during its final two decades, and the experience was one of the richest of their lives. The movement exposed them to strong, inspiring women and gave them the opportunity to become activists and to develop their voices as public speakers, organizers, and authors. ...
Chapter 3. Detention by the Male
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Early twentieth-century American feminists were not only interested in gaining their citizenship, they were also concerned about remaking their private relations with men. Sexuality was a central component in that remaking. The vibrant 1910s, which witnessed the triumphant climax of the woman suffrage movement, also fostered a sexual revolution that led to a more open society during the 1920s. ...
Chapter 4. Old Ideas versus New: Maternalism and Equal Rights
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Where most sex radicals sought to separate women’s sexuality from marriage and reproduction, maternalists elevated motherhood. In social policy, they focused on maternal and child welfare and drew on maternalist language and strategies to transform motherhood from women’s main private responsibility into public policy. ...
Chapter 5. This Vast Laboratory
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Modern feminism offered American middle-class women a double hope: meaningful work in the world and a resonant union with men. Stevens’s friend Crystal Eastman, an attorney and member of her bohemian cohort, summed up the way of thinking neatly. The modern woman “wants money of her own. ...
Chapter 6. To Work Together for Ends Larger Than Self
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The international women’s movement was another site of feminist experimentation in the 1920s and 1930s, and both Doris Stevens and Mary Beard led organizations in these years that were global in scope and grand in vision. An investigation of the Inter American Commission of Women (IACW), which strove for equal rights in international laws, ...
Chapter 7. Feminism as Life’s Work
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Inez Irwin, Mary Beard, Doris Stevens, and Lorine Pruette carried feminism forward in new sites of experimentation in the years after the 1920 suffrage victory. These sites included sexuality and relations with men; marriage; work and financial independence; and the National Woman’s Party. ...
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About the Author
Mary K. Trigg is associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University. She is also the director of leadership programs and research at the Institute for Women’s Leadership. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Brown University, ...
Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 10 photographs
Publication Year: 2014