December 6, 2009


Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines (New York: William Morrow, 2003) (“The history of American women is all about leaving home—crossing oceans and continents, or getting jobs and living on their own. Some of our national heroines were defined by the fact that they never nested--they were peripatetic crusaders like Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton. Sojourner Truth, Dorothea Dix. The center of our story is the tension between the yearning to create a home and the urge to get out of it.” Id. at xiii. "Giving women the right to vote did not have unanticipated consequences like Prohibition. In fact, the shock for suffragists was that it hardly seemed to have any consequences at all. Most women appeared to vote the way their husbands, brothers, and fathers did--not necessarily because they felt obliged to follow the men's lead, but because they shared the same loyalties to class, ethnic group, and region. . . . In 1920, when American women went to the polls across the nation for the first time, they made up an estimated one-third of the voters. Mainly, they voted for Warren Harding, who turned out to be one of the worst presidents in American history. He had stuffed his platform with female-friendly promises like equal pay for equal work, and end to child labor, and more women appointees to government positions. But his attraction was probably the same for both sexes--the promise of a return to 'normalcy' after the war and the turmoil that followed it." Id. at 338-339.).

Collins, Gail, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1969 to the Present (New York & Boston: Little, Brown, 2009) (“Cowboy action series were the best-loved TV entertainment on 1960. Eleven of the top twenty-five shows were Westerns, and they underlined the rule that women did not have adventures, except the ones that involved getting kidnapped or caught in a natural disaster. ‘Women used to be the big stars, but these days it’s men,’ said Michael Landon, one of the leads in Bonanza, the long-running story of an all-male family living on a huge Nevada ranch after the Civil War. Perhaps to emphasize their heterosexuality, the Cartwright men had plenty of romances. But the scriptwriters killed their girlfriends off at an extraordinarily speedy clip. The family patriarch, Ben, had been widowed three times, and his three sons all repeatedly got married or engaged, only to quickly lose their mates to the grim reaper. A rather typical episode began with Joe (Landon) happily dancing with a new fiancée. Before the first commercial, the poor girl was murdered on her way home from the hoedown.” Id. at 14-15. “The effect of the civil rights movement was crucial for women, because their fight was unique. It was, as the sociologist Alice Rossi said, the only instance in which people being discriminated against lived in much more intimate association with the ‘enemy’ than with other members of their own group. Women’s interests were bound up with those of their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons in every aspect of their lives. It was difficult for them to mount the kind of clear-cut fight that racial or ethnic minorities were able to make against an establishment that had discriminated against them. That was probably why the women’s movement always tended to ride on the wake of other fights for justice.” Id. at 104. “On a more positive note, [Palin] won over many voters who had tended in the past to be hostile to the whole concept of a woman in the White House. She had a special affinity with younger working-class men. They liked the way she talked about hunting and hockey, and introduced her husband as first dude. They say here as one of their own, rather than as an outsider parachuting in to tell them how to behave. Younger men with no college education were the people who had always been threatened by women in the workplace and often the one most resistant to any idea of being bossed by a woman anywhere. In a somewhat roundabout way, Palin made many of them converts to a new way of thinking. ‘They bear us children, they risk their lives to give us birth, so maybe it’s time we let a woman lead us,’ a former truck driver told a reporter during a Palin rally in North Carolina.” Id. at 391-392.).