The New Feminism in Twentieth-Century America

The New Feminism in Twentieth-Century America

The New Feminism in Twentieth-Century America

The New Feminism in Twentieth-Century America

Excerpt

Florence Guy Seabury

Florence Guy Seabury attacked the woman problem, as it was sometimes called, from the literary perspective. She deals with the questions: How have fictional writers viewed the woman? What have their conclusions been? In what ways do imaginative writers reflect or influence general opinions? What, therefore, can fiction tell us about the role of women?

If Clarissa Harlow could have stepped out of her pre-Victorian world to witness some of the women stevedores and "longshoremen" now at work along the New York waterfront, she would certainly have fainted so abruptly that no masculine aid could have restored consciousness. If we can believe the 1920 census, a goodly number of Clarissa's timid and delicate sex are toiling gloriously in the most dangerous and violent occupations. Nor are they only engaged in handling steel beams and freight, running trucks and donkey engines, but as miners and steeplejacks, aviators and divers, sheriffs and explorers -- everything, in fact that man ever did or thought of doing. They have proved, moreover, as successful in such a new occupation as capturing jungle tigers as in the old one of hunting husbands, as deft in managing big business as in running a little household.

But the census bureau, compiling all the facts of feminine industry, forgot to note that woman might perform these amazingly varied operations, outside the home, without changing in any measurable degree the rooted conception of her nature and activities. She may step out of skirts into knickers, cut her hair in a dozen short shapes and even beat a man in a prize fight, but old ideas as to her place and qualities endure. She changes nothing as . . .

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