The Home Teacher Act, Pure Food and Drug Act, well baby clinics, registration of nurses, inspection of milk, and protection of the redwood trees are a representative handful of the programs these clubwomen supported. The clubs also promoted self-education through cultural discussions, and after their federation in 1892, turned their attention to civic affairs. Black women's clubs, which also federated in the 1890s, supported racial causes, discussed women's issues, and worked on philanthropic projects.
Other women became involved in the campaign for higher education, the establishment of women's colleges, and the promotion of women into the professions. Women's rights leaders formed the Equal Suffrage Association of 1866 to strive for both black and woman suffrage and promoted a broad spectrum of women's rights—equal suffrage, equal pay, marriage reform, more liberal divorce laws, and "self-sovereignty. " By taking part in public affairs, women reformers helped legitimize suffragist claims.
Advocates of the ballot had always combined demands for sexual equality (women deserved the vote) with arguments based on sexual difference (women would bring special qualities to politics) (Wolich,n. p. ). During the progressive years, suffragist rhetoric tilted toward an emphasis on the good that women would do for society if enfranchised. In 1919, Congress at last approved woman suffrage and in August 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified by the states. World events such as the World War I, also had important implications for women's roles. These events accelerated the transformation of the roles of women in society.
During the first World War, as men left for the fighting front, employment opportunities opened up for women. Women's attempts to contribute to the World War I effort by filling men's jobs were initially rebuffed, but after the United States entered the war, women began to take on munitions and clerical jobs, becoming more economically independent in the process. Women were on the verge of emancipation, but the tradition of being sheltered and in need of protection in a male-dominated society still lingered. Women were granted more freedom and privileges following World War I, especially in nations that fought in the conflict.
About a million women entered the labor force during the war, however, most quickly departed when peace returned (Kennedy, n. p. ). Conclusion Incorporating my findings with Wittig’s journal article, I can say that because of the varied responses just in defining the term alone, it is worth noting that the term feminism has never been widely popular. Yet the political goals of feminism have survived—despite continuing discomfort with the term, a hostile political climate, and heated internal criticism—largely because feminism has continually redefined itself.
Indeed, a better historical understanding of feminism can assuage some of the fears connected with the word. It can also illuminate the impact that this revolutionary movement continues to have in our lives. The focus in feminist theory can be more accurately stated to be on gender rather than on ‘women, because “the categories of ‘men’ and ‘women’ and the categories of ‘masculinity’, and ‘femininity’” are highly debatable in feminist theory research. By and large, feminism has passed the historical test of time, and attempts to define it, because it has redefined itself in response to a variety of local and global politics.
Feminist ideas remain part of the political landscape. In the end, I can say that Wittig’s conclusion is going a bit too far and run contradictions to many of the social and religious concepts held today. It is only apt to say that feminism has survived, because of the complex responses to economic and political change, and through adaptation to diverse cultural settings. Given the momentum that feminism has built thus, far, combined with the ongoing global economic and democratic movements, the quest for universal recognition of women’s equal worth is not likely to be reversed.
In fact, to understand the future of women, we must appreciate the history of women in politics that has brought us to this moment in history.
Bulbeck, P. , and Hughes, O. (1997). Two mergers rock Asia Pacific. Multichannel, 18(30), 3-4. Retrieved Nov, 16, 2006, from Infotrac Academic ASAP database. Brayton, J. What makes Feminist Research Feminist? The Structure of Feminist Research within the Social Sciences. Retrieved Nov, 16, 2006 at: http://www.unb.ca