Women's Movements in America: Their Successes, Disappointments, and Aspirations

Women's Movements in America: Their Successes, Disappointments, and Aspirations

Women's Movements in America: Their Successes, Disappointments, and Aspirations

Women's Movements in America: Their Successes, Disappointments, and Aspirations

Synopsis

Examining the American woman's struggle for suffrage, legal and property rights, and equality in the economic, political, and social realms, this book describes the gradual evolution of an increasingly independent women's movement committed to pursuing women's issues on all fronts. Each topical section provides historical analysis and rich documentation drawn from legal statutes and judicial decisions, demographic data, and public opinion polls, as well as biographies and other narrative accounts.

Excerpt

More than a century and a half has gone by since the founding of the first women's movement in the United States. Much has been accomplished as measured by women's status in the occupational, political, and educational spheres; by gains in personal security; and by their increased longevity during that time. How much of each accomplishment women's movements can take credit for is, of course, difficult to assess and subject to political debate. But clearly the women's movement played a central role in obtaining suffrage for women. Women's movements also were instrumental in achieving gains in property rights such as allowing wives to keep the wages they earned rather than placing them under the legal supervision of their husband; in attaining the right to enter into contracts, to control their inheritances, and to sue in their own names; in the child custody debate; and in the passage of an equal pay act and of Title vii of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in all terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

In the beginning, of course, there was nothing like a women's movement in the United States despite an egregious lack of rights. in the years before 1848, vocal feminists had raised their voices as individuals. Gradually, women developed an awareness of their disadvantaged status. But they were scattered throughout the states. They had not formed a unified movement. They were a group of highly educated, middle-class, white urban women leaders--with no cohesive, unified following.

The 1848 Seneca Falls convention provided an impetus for the first U.S. women's movement, and its Declaration of Principles included many aspects of women's status that are applicable today. the sixty-nine women (and thirtytwo men) who signed the declaration represented the beginning of a feminist . . .

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