This article explores the organization of women within the Democratic Party in the postwar period, using the unexpected dissolution of the party's Women's Division in 1953 to examine the way women active within the party apparatus understood their partisan engagement. These women embraced a gender-neutral approach emphasizing selflessness, and abandoned collective strategies to influence policy or extract gains for women. By the early 1960s, the women's organization had deteriorated not only because of the machinations of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair and the weakening of the DNC as a whole but also because of the women's own limited vision of their participation. Women made significant contributions to the life of the Democratic Party in the 1950s, but their abandonment of collective expression in the party in the name of gender neutrality and service contributed to the irrelevance of the remaining women's organization, particularly as women organized to assert collective pressure elsewhere. This article exposes the difficulties facing women who participated in mixed-sex organizations and adds to the dialogue regarding postwar women's political activism.


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pp. 111-137
Launched on MUSE
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