Women and the Politics of Empowerment

By Ann Bookman; Sandra Morgen | Go to book overview

Rethinking Women and Politics: An Introductory Essay

Sandra Morgen Ann Bookman

"EDISON SCHOOL MOTHERS FIGHT FOR NEW HIGH SCHOOL" "CHICANAS 'CAN' UNION LEADERSHIP -- DEMAND VOICE IN CANNERY LOCAL" "FLEETPORT WOMEN WIN BACK HEALTH CLINIC"

Headlines like these rarely appear in the newspaper, yet news of working-class women's activism could be written every day. Women's grassroots political action does constitute the "news that's fit to print." This book examines the political activism of working-class women in the United States during the 1970s and early 1980s. These women defy the portrayal of working-class women so common in the popular press as passive, politically disinterested, unskilled, or ineffectual. Instead, they actively seek to change the places where they work, the neighborhoods where they live, and the schools, social services, and health facilities that serve them and their families.

The political worlds of working-class women have been obscured not only by the popular media but in much of academic literature as well. There have been studies of the political experience of women, but these have focused unduly on white and middle-class women. 1 Treatments of working-class political action are rarely differentiated by gender and usually focus on white men's organization in trade unions. Research on political movements among racial and ethnic minorities often fails to treat gender adequately. As a result, the political action of working-class women has remained largely undocumented. This neglect has contributed to the development of theories of political action and consciousness that fail to deal with gender as a salient analytic concept and do not recognize how race, ethnicity, and class specify women's modes of resistance. Feminist scholars have begun to challenge this neglect and change our thinking about women and politics.

The most powerful reason for the invisibility of women as political actors

-3-

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