Alabama in the Twentieth Century

By Wayne Flynt | Go to book overview

6
On and Off the Pedestal
Women

Being smart can be a real detriment to a woman unless she knows how to go about
it tactfully.

—Nanci Kincaid, Balls: A Novel

Revolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big, violent, and noisy. Others are so quiet that they barely announce their arrival. Some run their course in a few months or years. Others take decades to play out and defy the concept of sudden change altogether. Some compromise and accommodate. Others contest ground so fiercely that in the end it is hard to know which side lost and which won.

When the 20th century dawned, Alabama women were just beginning to challenge inherited Victorian values. Buttressed by evangelical Christian admonitions to be submissive and southern cultural expectations to reign over domestic life from their pedestals, women found Victorianism an even tighter binding than the corsets and other contraptions that constrained their bodies. God not only had created women and men differently; he had intended them for separate spheres, or so Victorians believed. Women presided over hearth and home. They provided faithful companionship, fidelity in sexual as well as domestic service, maternal nurturing both for children and sometimes equally infantile spouses. They managed household duties so as to assure husbands community respect and domestic tranquility. They gladsomely accepted a secondary role outside the home, keeping political opinions to themselves and eschewing publicity and notoriety. Whatever aspirations they might have for personal accomplishment outside

-251-

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Alabama in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xv
  • Part One - Alabama's Political Economy 1
  • 1: In the Beginning the 1901 Constitution 3
  • 2: Every Man for Himself Politics, Alabama Style 29
  • 3: Selling Alabama the Economy 107
  • Part Two - Alabama's Society 173
  • 4: Life from the Bottom Up Society 175
  • 5: Teaching the People Education 220
  • 6: On and off the Pedestal Women 251
  • 7: Counting Behind White Folks African Americans 317
  • 8: Fighting Mad Alabamians at War 373
  • 9: Beyond the Game the Social Significance of Sports 407
  • Part Three - Alabama's Culture 441
  • 10: What Would Jesus Do? Religion 443
  • 11: Plain and Fancy Folk and Elite Culture 485
  • Notes 533
  • Selected Bibliography 545
  • Index 579
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