[Women on the Defensive]

By Bashevkin, Sylvia B.; Harder, Lois | Resources for Feminist Research, January 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

[Women on the Defensive]


Bashevkin, Sylvia B., Harder, Lois, Resources for Feminist Research


WOMEN ON THE DEFENSIVE: LIVING THROUGH CONSERVATIVE TIMES

Sylvia Bashevkin

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998; 318 pp.

Reviewed by Lois Harder

Department of Political Science

University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta

Sylvia Bashevkin's Women on the Defensive analyses the impact of Conservative governments on women's demands for equal rights, family law reform, reproductive choice, protection against violence and employment rights in Britain, the United States and Canada. Bashevkin's book is systematic. She provides a recounting of women's movement successes previous to the election of Conservative governments, an analysis of feminist encounters with the Thatcher/Major, Reagan/Bush and Mulroney administrations and a discussion of the dynamics of women's interaction with their successors. On the basis of interviews with over 100 activists, the biographies, autobiographies and public statements of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney and the analysis of public documents and judicial decisions, Bashevkin reveals that while women's groups in each country faired worse under Conservative regimes than they had under their predecessors, the specificities of Conservatism in each country were key to determining the character and degree of resistance to feminist gains. The book would be particularly useful for second or third year political science classes concerning women and politics, comparative politics, and social movements. Chapters might also be usefully extracted for women's studies courses addressing feminism and social change and as an example of liberal feminist analysis.

Women on the Defensive's primary theoretical engagement is not with feminist work but with the literature of comparative federalism and systems of government. In this context, Bashevkin challenges David Truman's assertion that unitary governments, such as that of Britain, are more responsive to social movement demands than federal governments (the U.S. and Canada) due to the centralization of decision-makers. Truman is a peculiar choice. He was writing in the early 1950s when the welfare state was only beginning to take shape and well before the social movements that would eventually insist on the egalitarian promise of liberal democratic welfare states were asserting their demands. Certainly the Canadian literature on feminist organizing has long acknowledged the usefulness to activists of playing two levels of government against each other. Secondly, and, as she asserts, more importantly, Bashevkin challenges the assertion that congressional forms of government, with their weak party discipline and distinct separation of powers among the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, are more responsive to diffuse interest group demands than Parliamentary systems, due to the multiple points at which group representatives may assert their claims. Women on the Defensive, she argues, reveals that the presence or absence of constitutionally guaranteed rights was a better indicator of the ability of women to defend equality gains from conservative attack than a particular institutional configuration.

The cases of Britain, the United States and Canada are considered in each chapter of Women on the Defensive. In the first chapter, Bashevkin traces the emergence of the women's movement beginning with suffrage struggles, through the second wave and their subsequent encounters with conservatism in the 1980s. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

[Women on the Defensive]
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.