Traitors to the Masculine Cause: The Men's Campaigns for Women's Rights

Traitors to the Masculine Cause: The Men's Campaigns for Women's Rights

Traitors to the Masculine Cause: The Men's Campaigns for Women's Rights

Traitors to the Masculine Cause: The Men's Campaigns for Women's Rights

Synopsis

"The author cogently presents the philosophical stances and radical activities of the traitors about whom she writes. Her habit of giving birth and death dates of the figures as she introduces them helps to clarify the relationships of the major issues under discussion to the ideas and actions of the campaigners. The book's organization allows for a fairly comprehensive discussion of the disparate proposals which marked the early years of the movement; its structure illustrates the coming together of those ideas into a focussed drive for women's emancipation. The full documentation and bibliographic essay provide valuable resource information for scholars who wish to further investigate this subject." - International Journal of Women's Studies

Excerpt

When one studies a subject that has been neglected in the past, writing about it provides its own justification but presents other problems. One desires to be comprehensive and inevitably questions arise. Why include this person and not that one? Why a chapter on literary figures? Criteria had to be established; I realized that to include everyone who was absorbed by the woman's question in the nineteenth century would result in a tome of unmanageable proportions. My criteria were first, that each man I included had to not only comment or make observations on women's status, but had to think of himself as a feminist; and second, that each had to be in some sense an activist--in putting forth a program and/or supporting women's rights. Thus, the literary figures included all sought to shape one facet--the intellectual one--of the new woman. All were conscious reformers, and all supported women's rights in some concrete way, for example, the vote. In that they were "campaigners" as well as interested observers or sympathizers, the same can be said for all the men discussed. Frequently their treason is measured by the outcry it produced from established authority.

In tracing a tradition over the course of more than one hundred years, one is likely to come across schisms and shifts of emphasis, both ideological and programmatic. The major shift I came across occurred toward the end of the nineteenth century and involved those men who have come to be called domestic feminists--social scientists who saw women primarily as sexual beings whose biology was their destiny. They believed that women could improve their status and enhance their value to society by performing more expertly in their traditional sphere.

Those men I refer to as philosophical feminists prized women's intellect and those qualities of mind and temperament which they believed inhered in women's nature and comprised a female culture. They gave these traits an overriding social import and considered women to be more democratic, more moral, more sensitive to those in distress, and respectful of human life than men. Women were thus regarded as civilizers. Philosophical feminism was broad enough to . . .

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