PSPA 4070: Women and Politics Prof. Emily Neff-Sharum Office: Oxendine 1320B Email if you have questions or issues.
Developing a Research Topic START WORKING ON YOUR TOPIC NOW! Finding a policy area Women’s organization websites– NOW, NWPC, WISH, Feminist Majority Women’s research organizations– IWPR, Center for American Women and Politics Pay attention to the news, read back news stories, search thomas.loc.gov for congressional action Look to your own interests
Suggestions-- Issues regarding women in the military Issues regarding violence against women (rape, sexual assault, domestic violence) Sexual harassment Pay gap or comparative worth policies Disparate impact of Social Security on women Women’s poverty Reproductive rights (this can be beyond abortion) Pornography or prostitution regulation Discrimination against mothers Title IX protections
Policy analysis– choose a current issue that is on the agenda but unresolved and provide a researched policy solution to advocate in your paper. 1) a discussion of why the issue is considered a women’s issue 2) a brief discussion of the historical development of this issue in the U.S. 3) a discussion of current problems advocates are concerned with or enduring issues or threats to women’s rights in this area 4) propose possible solutions with supporting evidence that your solution is credible.
Key concepts from MAtthews
Public versus Private Public Domain– Those parts of life that deal with the outside world Public Policy-- problems and issues that can/ should be dealt with politically; those under the purview of government Private Domain- Those parts of life that deal with the personal and home. Those problems and issues that are out of bounds for government involvement
Understanding Publicfor Matthews Legal- legal identity. Does the law recognize you as a claimant? How does the court receive you. Rights under the law. Political– ability to engage in politics. Can you act? If so, as an insider or an outsider? How is influence constrained? Spatial– Public spaces where presence is acceptable. Segregation norms/ rules/ laws? Prohibited places? Cultural– What positions in society is seen as taboo? What behavior is acceptable?
Social Construction Generally- social construction refers to the way individuals conceptualize the world around them. We assign meaning to everything that comes in before us as positive or negative, as problematic or not, as deserving or undeserving, etc. Application to politics– If we construct a situation as public then politics becomes a forum for engaging in social constructions (to either change or re-affirm the social construction).
Social Construction Public policy is the primary tool through which government acts to exploit, inscribe, entrench, institutionalize, perpetuate, or change social constructions. It is fair to observe that there are many different sources of social constructions besides policy… The role of governance in social construction probably is smaller than the combined influence of market advertisements, music, film, and other aspects of historical custom and popular culture. Yet, policy is the dynamic element through which governments anchor, legitimize, or change social constructions. (Schneider and Ingram 2005: 5)
Feminism “Feminism is a critique of male supremacy, formed and offered in the light of a will to change it, which in turn assumes a conviction that it is changeable.” (Matthews 1992: 11) Differences in feminist understandings are usually sourced in either Disagreement in the importance of taking biological differences into consideration The role the government is able to take in improving women’s lives and creating real social change
A Few Types of FeminismSee Matthews for definitions. Social Feminists- “who considered women to be fundamentally different from men and in need of special protection.” Egalitarian Feminists-“who ignored biology and wanted men and women treated identically.” Liberal Feminists—“focus on the similarities between women and men as human beings and citizens and sought removal of stereotypes and legal barriers that have kept women from reaching their full potential.” Issue focused and work to change laws in order to improve women’s lives (i.e. work and pay issues, educational opportunities, and reproduction). Radical Feminists-—“focused on sexual differences and analyzed patriarchy as the dominance of males over female sexuality.” This form of feminism proscribed women taking control of their sexuality as a way of escaping patriarchy. Until this happened laws would not help women. This group tends to be very skeptical of state intervention into improving the lives of women. Black Feminists and Multi-cultural Feminists- highlight the differences in challenges of women of color and those who engage the above forms of feminism (which tend to be white- middle class women). The work of these feminists challenge notions of what is “best” from women espoused by the above groups.
Intersectionality The idea that focusing on one aspect of identity is problematic Such a focus assumes a common, shared experience that does not exist Ignores the complexity of problems faced by individuals because of multiple identities that are experienced together.
Such work uses layers of analysis to understand the influences of Sex and Gender Race and Ethnicity Class
Terms Coverture– a form of legal status for women after marriage in which she assumes the legal identity of her husband. This means that the husband assumes control of property, is the legally responsible party in court (has the power to sue or is the litigant in a lawsuit), and generally means that married women cannot enter into contracts.
Subjectivity– recognizing the power dynamics embedded in a particular identity by those that hold that identity. Such recognition allows individuals to assume more control of their position through recognition of common experiences and power positions.
Differences– Region and Religion How did Puritans, Quakers, and the inhabitants of the Colonial South view and treat women? What was similar? What was different? Puritians (Upper New England)– head of household, family owed obedience, but he was obligated to show them respect. Deeply entrenched patriarchal ideas, especially those guiding property ownership and inheritance law. Wives did have autonomy when acting on behalf of husband No man in life? At-risk for persecution.
Quakers- (middle New England– PA) Religious beliefs give women a source of authority– 1) everyone cultivates an “Inner Light,” 2) no church heirarchy, and 3) women allowed to be preachers. Women have central role in family decision-making Women allowed to speak in public and travel alone. Women still have little legal rights, especially once married. Example of importance… Susan B. Anthony. Southern Colonies/ States Women have more economic rights due to high death rates in the South.
Commonalities? Differences existed between legal rights and social reality. No access to democratic rights (i.e. voting and participating IN government). Need to be respectable, even during periods of changing roles. Gossip is a tool that both helps and harms women’s advancement during this period. Increasing value of private life
What/ how did economic change erode patriarchal control? Economic growth Increased differences in wealth More economic options with increased industries and education. Commercial development and the increased importance of personal wealth Marriage is less about economic arrangements Quaker women start to engage “gender-based commodity production.”
What are the different ways that emotional life became more important? Why does this matter? Marriage changes Women have more control over identity of who they want to marry. More about affection and companionship Increased value on emotional/ private life Fathers want love not fear Forced marriage becoming socially unacceptable Romantic love becomes main determinant of marriage choice for men (as well as women)
Effect of the Great Awakening– encouraged the analysis/writing of your feelings and considering their connections to Christ. Women as well as men are directed to think through religious struggles.
Republicanism How does republicanism provide a space for women to become more public actors? Offers a path to connect private and public (think of Wollstonecraft’s response to Rousseau). Women have an elevated role as training men to be virtuous citizens and become icons of virtue Valorizing private life increases visibility of women. Gives women a basis for justifying acting publicly. (Examples?) What were ways that women either saw or were able to act as public actors? Which do you find significant?
Power of Word Colonial and Constitutional Era Novel Spread developments in women’s “position” due to republicanism “women ‘publicized’ their subjectivity.” (73) Bridges the gap of public and private. Allowed by the increased value placed on private live and emotional fulfillment, but also deepened this value. Emphasis on feelings allows for “a break in patriarchal discourse.” (75)
Importance of the Novel Con’t Offers an avenue for critiquing aspects of public life that are overtly patriarchal. Key is seduction which 1) warns women to safeguard their personal virtue and 2) a republican metaphor for public virtue, warning the broader public to not be corrupted by enticement. (Key works are Charlotte Temple and Coquette)
The Antebellum Period (1812ish to the Civil War) Domestic novel– includes “intimate details of the daily life of ordinary women.” (78) i.e., how to become a housewife, how to support oneself, how to deal with men. PRIVATE becoming PUBLIC Changes influence literature and women’s situation Increased amount of products commercially available More education for women Decreasing birthrate
How domestic novels impacted the real world Gave voice to a broader spectrum of female experiences. Started to challenge different aspects of male privilege, such as property rights and divorce law. Allowed women to feel they were legitimately angry about difficult situations they faced in relation to this. Offered alternative arrangements of women’s place in the social structure. Offered women a sense of their power as housewives. Since women authors were respected, this activity starts the trend of women being able to speak more publicly.
Rise of woman’s autobiography- Starts as a path to self-representation for black women. 1) Our Nig by Harriet Wilson and 2) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Similar to earlier novels by white women, the main themes of the work are around social justice, giving value to the experiences of black women who were enslaved, and exploring themes of self- preservation. Exception is when dealing with sexuality, love, and marriage. Because of the situation of slavery, these experiences have little comparable basis.
Key Developments of Antebellum and Post Civil War Increased employment Textiles and shoes School teaching Domestic work Religious change (again)– Second Great Awakening Rise of volunteerism Social housekeeping– the activities of women to use public means to enforce moral codes and normative standards of private life.
Increasing respect for domesticity Expansion of acceptable space for women to occupy (social geography) and ability to travel Increase in public speaking Religion Abolition of slavery Temperance Women’s Rights (Seneca Falls and afterwards)
Constraints Continued pressure to remain “respectable.”
Indirect effects Increased confidence Increased skill set Organizational skills Administrative skills Fund-raising skills Political skills
Social housekeeping– the activities of women to use public means to enforce moral codes and normative standards of private life. Relevant for chapter 8.
BEGINNING Erosions to Respectability Constraintchanges in space constraints Employment Rise of the Department Store Dress Increased “promiscuous activity” Goldman and others who begin to speak about sexuality (and remain respected by many)
Women Creating New Respectability Temperance movement Settlement houses and the development of social work Women’s clubs
Nature of Political Change Speed Comprehensive change– sweeping reform Incremental change– reform in small pieces Cause Idiosyncratic factors- individual actors and their personality, unique time and events. Can we imagine suffrage without Stanton and Anthony? Structural factors- how political institutions and cultural practices are situated. Some states had already given women the right to vote. Reality usually is a combination of the two
Politics of Suffrage Rise of first wave feminism– women deserve the vote and deserve to be treated equally under the law Organizing and lobby activity Grassroots Political parties Gaining the right to vote– mirrors policy tactics by some groups today. State by state push first After some success here start a more successful national push
Gains and Losses Suffrage gained Losses Decreasing solidarity based on womanhood Domestic life becomes a decreasing source of empowerment Political parties cut off access to political power. Women’s parties co-opted into women’s divisions. Women’s networks and organizations start to focus on topics other than politics.
Agenda Conflicts Equal Rights Amendment Laws to protect women
Employment Pioneer in women working in the labor movement. Work was focused on improving male working conditions in the mining industry.
Working class women How is the activism of working class women different from the model of upper class white women discussed in earlier chapters?
Women and Work Today http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/R260.pdf
Revival of the Quest for Rights Influence of the Civil Rights Movement 2nd Wave Feminism Rise of new women’s groups– political in purpose NOW NWPC
Notes About Response Papers 2-3 pages, 1.5 spacing, Times New Roman Name and reading single spaced in corner DO NOT SUMMARIZE Do bring in points from the reading that clarify the point you are trying to make– this means you MUST be making an ARGUMENT!
Highlight what you find interesting, reflection on how reading compliments or contradicts earlier reading or discussion, or poses a question about the reading in context of the course. You must post your response paper on the course discussion board AND turn a hard copy into me.