Essays in Feminism (Magill's Literary Annual 1980)
Most people would agree that the status of women in American Society has undergone some change during the past half century, although the degree of change would unquestionably be a matter hotly debated. Even more hotly debated is the central question of whether the changes in status, those already achieved and those still sought by militant feminists, are beneficial to either women or American society. Even without the self-conscious agitation for change which has become so stridently vociferous during the past decade, women’s place in the social and economic order has been evolving at an uneven pace for as long as the industrial revolution has been in progress. Economic pressures, expanding demand for cheap labor, and increased schooling have effectively though inadvertently cooperated to swell the ranks of working women, and to increase the awareness of women as to their position in the social order.
Tradition, religion, laws, and history have prescribed and presumed that women should be silent, passive, and submissive to men. The changes wrought by the industrial revolution and universal public education stimulated a series of changes in the life-styles and the thinking of American women.
Early feminist militancy was primarily vocal or physical. Marches, strikes, and speeches were the principal means of agitation and the most effective methods of impact both upon opponents of change in women’s status and upon the vast dormant body of...
(The entire section is 1786 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Essays in Feminism Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!