women’s socially-constructed differences from men

women’s socially-constructed differences from men
During the Progressive Era, female activists often used women’s socially-constructed differences from men (maternalism, morality, etc.) in order to advance women’s social power and equality with men. Indeed, sameness and difference arguments were intertwined in many campaigns. In this essay, explore both the benefits and shortcomings of the use of these dual arguments in one or two of the following efforts: campaigns to achieve mothers’ pensions, protective labor legislation, or the right to vote. Then contrast that ideology to the modern feminism articulated by young, radical women in the 1910s (which put the focus on the similarities between the sexes and called for an end to “specialization by sex”). Finally, explain which type of feminist ideology (that of sameness/difference feminism or of modern feminism) was more widely shared and politically effective in the Progressive period and why. Make sure you define these two types of feminism in your essay as you develop and compare them.
I hesitate to discuss Question 3 yet because we haven’t covered some of the material in class (we’ll do so next week and the following Tuesday). But here goes. Question 3 focuses on feminist ideologies developed by activist women in the Progressive Era. Most women activists believed that women were both similar to and different from men. They valued women’s socially-constructed differences and wanted to elevate and protect them, while also arguing that women were equal to men in many ways and deserving of equal status in society. We’ve discussed these dual arguments in relation to proposals for mothers’ pensions and protective labor legislation in past weeks. And we just discussed them (and will elaborate on them more fully on Tuesday) in relation to woman suffrage (and Nancy Cott’s essay on e-reserve has a good discussion of dual arguments in the suffrage movement). You’ll want to assess the benefits and shortcomings of what I’m calling sameness/difference feminism in one or two of the three campaigns I’ve just listed. Then you’ll want to explore a very different feminist ideology, that of modern feminism, articulated by a small number of activists in the 1910s. Modern feminists stressed the similarities between men and women and believed that men and women should possess the same qualities and roles in society (the readings on e-reserve by Cott and Crystal Eastman focus on modern feminism and we’ll talk about this brand of feminism on Tuesday, March 18). Finally, you’ll want to discuss which set of arguments for women’s emancipation (sameness/difference feminism or modern feminism) were more widely shared and politically effective in the Progressive Era and why (we’ll discuss this issue in class on March 18). The thesis for this question will encompass your comparisons of the two feminist ideologies and your assessment of which one was more effective in the early 20th century. Make sure that you define the two feminisms in your essay.

Book required:
– women’s America refocusing the past V2 7th edition by Linda –
– out of the shadow by rose Cohen
-Ella baker and the black freedom movement by Barbara Ransby