US Civil Rights - Women - Hinderences


Divisions within the women's movement

  • AWSA campaigned for the vote for AAs (male and female), the NWSA campaigned for a federal constitutional amendment recognising the right to vote
    • These organisations did merge but still only made up 1/2 the number of women involved in the prohibition movement
    • Could be argued women in this period did not see the significance of a political voice - hindered the ability of the sufferage movement to have a larger impact
  • 19th Amendment excluded AAs (state laws) and immigrant women (disenfranchised)
    • Elizabeth Stanton was opposed to the black vote - if black men can vote, why can't white women?
  • Anti-feminism movements
    • During the second KKK, some women formed an anti-feminist auxiliary branch
    • Phyllis Schlafly, opposition to the ERA and Roe v Wade (Right to Life Committee)
      • Significant in the passing of the Hyde Amendment - limted impact of Roe v Wade
      • Many women viewed the ERA as redundant - believed that its aims had been met by the Civil Rights Act (1964)
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Lack of economic advancement

  • The periods in which the USA has experienced its most significant economic developments have coincided with the most fundamental transformations of women's roles and attitudes towards their status
  • The periods of economic expansion and development provided greater access to white collar employment, educational opportunities and consumer goods
  • Therefore, women's rights were hindered in the periods in which economic advancement stalled eg. during the Depression
    • In order to reduce the unemployment of men 26 states introduced laws which prevented women from working
    • Francis Perkins and the National Recovery Administration established the principle of lower pay for female workers - would take nearly 30 years for the Equal Pay Act to be passed in 1963
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Societal attitudes

  • The concept of 'separate spheres' was significant throughout most of the period, for example a Gallup poll in 1936 suggested that 82% of Americans were opposed to women working (however, this may have been a result of the impact of the Depression)
  • The media reinforced the concept of separate spheres folling WW2, and Dr Bejamin Spock's 'Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare' (1946) sold 23 million copies over the next 30 years
  • It was not until the 1960s that the majority of Americans approved of the idea of women in the workplace, due to the desire for increased disposable income
    • It could be argued that it is no conincidence that the Equal Rights Bill was passed in this peried, as a result of the shift in attitudes during this rapid period of social change
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