Problems In American History Essay, Research Paper
Major Problems in American Women s History is a collection of documents and essays that are primarily about the role women took in American history. I was assigned to read chapter 14: Women and the Feminine Ideal in Postwar America, and chapter 15: Political Activism and Feminism in the 1960s and Early 1970s.
Chapter 14 was compiled of six documents and three essays. All of which describes the atmosphere and obstacles women in the postwar era had to endure. The first document was an article excerpted from American Home magazine entitled, Parents, and Architects of Peace . This article informs parents on how to raise their children with the qualities of leadership necessary to insure peace (p400). The author dictates that in order to achieve this goal they must supply their children with personal security. Personal security is achieved by harmonious family living which is based on… (p400) seven principals. (1) Love and Affection, (2) Equal Rights, (3) Discipline, (4) Freedom, (5) Enrichment, (6) Co-operation, and (7) Education.
The second document was taken from Modern Women: The Lost Sex. In this document the authors are anti-feminists. They strongly agree that a woman s place is in the home. That is the main point of the document. They believe that women with jobs are neglecting their families. They state that if a woman is not happy with her domestic life that she is a masculine women. They imply that there is something biologically wrong with women that seek careers.
The third document was taken from Negro Magazine. This document describes just how women, especially black women experience prejudice in the work place and in other aspects of life. The author mentions how successful businesswomen are never credited for their accomplishments, and emphasizes how it is difficult for a black woman to find a man. She blames the difficulty in finding a man on several factors. One being that black men outnumber black women, and interracial marriages were not accepted at the time.
The fourth document is a letter to the editor of a lesbian magazine called The Ladder. She begins by stating that she is glad that there is such a magazine. She mentions that she sees nothing wrong with the behavior and dress of lesbians and that society should accept it.
The fifth document is also from The Ladder. Four different women try to explain why they are lesbians. The first woman says she doesn t believe there is a cause. She also mentions that she doesn t really believe in homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter; she believes there is only sexuality. The second woman also doesn t know what causes it. She does know, however, that it was not the reason that many ignorant people commonly think; such as her parents didn t love her or she was seduced by another lesbian. The third says she doesn t believe in the idea that she was born that way. She also is not clear on why she is a lesbian. The final woman believes lesbianism is the result of protesting the domination of males over females.
The final document is written by a women name Joyce Johnson. She writes of her experience of obtaining an illegal abortion in New York City in 1955.
The three essays made up most of the chapter. The first essay was written by Elaine Tyler May. She tries to explain the cause and the effect of the baby boom . The author said the drop in the marrying age is one factor. Also many families were having a larger number of children. She said the cold war made women embrace their domestic duties. Another reason is that many people feel having children provides happiness. During the depression, this idea must have been taken to heart.
Joanne Meyerowitz wrote the second essay. She discusses the different images of women portrayed through different magazines. She disagreed with the ideology of the domestic women was portrayed and accepted by all. She dug up evidence to contradict that idea. She concluded In popular magazines, the theme of individual achievement rang most clearly in the numerous articles on individual women. (p422).
The last essay is about the meaning of lesbianism in America. Donna Penn looks at how society condemns lesbians. She says that society believes that lesbians are fleeing from adult responsibility (p430) such as motherhood and marriage. She also brings up the topic of the important role butch lesbians play. She said that butch lesbians allow other lesbians to build a community by being able to recognize others like themselves.
Chapter 15 is compiled of six documents and three essays. The first document discusses The Problem That Has No Name . This problem the one that causes house wives to be unhappy. This problem is the one that causes the women to feel unfulfilled. The author spoke of how for a while most women would not even speak of their unhappiness in fear that something was wrong with them. They couldn t figure out why they were not happy with just taking care of their family. The author urges females to speak out; to say that they want more in life.
The second document talks about the oppression of women. It discusses oppression at work, in personal relationships, in institutions and in the community. The authors state the reason for writing this document is to open discussion on it, in hopes it will lead to a solution.
The third document is NOW s Statement of Purpose. They expand on the idea of equality and state that their purpose is to achieve that equality.
The fourth document is Redstocking Manifesto. It contains many similar ideas of NOW s statement of purpose. It focuses more on the fact that women are oppressed. It also emphasizes that need to unite together to fight for equality.
The fifth document is named Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female . This document is about precisely what the title would lead you to believe. A woman writes about the trials and obstacles that come with being black and a woman in 1970. She discusses how her struggles for equal rights differ from that of a white woman. She claims that those groups who strive for equal rights are sexist and the women groups that fight for equality are prejudice.
The final document is about being triple oppressed. The author speaks of how feminism is essential among chicanas.
The first of the three essays is about the role of black women in the civil rights movement. The author discusses the fact that many African American women were too timid to stand up for their rights in fear that they might take away from the racist cause. It also points out a few key leaders who were African American women that fought for equality.
The second essay is entitled White Women and the Origins of the Women s Liberation Movement. This essay, as the title may lead you to believe is about how the Women s Liberation movement began.
The last essay is called Gender Awareness Among Chicanas and Mexicanas in the United Farm Workers of America. This essay talks about the women s involvement in the United Farm Workers of America union. This is mainly about the involvement of women in labor union, and the effect on the work place they had.
All of the materials in these two chapters have for the most part been covered in class. The main theme of the chapters is why were women oppressed in the post-war era. Also the idea that women s rights took the back seat to civil rights was explored.
I would have to say that I didn t really learn anything knew in these two chapters. They basically reinforced the information I ve already learned in class. Also, most of it was opinion. Most of the documents and essays talked about how different peopled viewed the same issues and how they felt about them.
In these chapters, there isn t a sufficient amount of facts and information. The only information that is given is given to back up ones opinion.