Chat with us, powered by LiveChat An outline of the assigned reading that includes thesis of the reading, 3-5 critical points and your assessment of the effectiveness of the reading. need at least 3-5 ParagraphsWomens - Writeedu

An outline of the assigned reading that includes thesis of the reading, 3-5 critical points and your assessment of the effectiveness of the reading. need at least 3-5 ParagraphsWomens

An outline of the assigned reading that includes thesis of the reading, 3-5 critical points and your assessment of the effectiveness of the reading.

need at least 3-5 Paragraphs

Chapter Title: Feminist Practice: Social Movements and Urban Space Book Title: Constructive Feminism

Book Subtitle: Women's Spaces and Women's Rights in the American City

Book Author(s): Daphne Spain

Published by: Cornell University Press

Stable URL:

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q Chapter 1

Feminist Practice Social Movements and Urban Space

Social movements on behalf of marginalized people in the United States have been the engines for significant progress toward a just society. They take shape when one or more highly visible advo- cates (Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, in the case of postwar feminism) identifies an injustice and brings it to public attention; they gain strength when grassroots activists engage in collective action.1 New spatial institutions became a hallmark of the Second Wave; creating them was a practice femi- nists inherited from US social movements that preceded them. Meaningful spaces, both religious and secular, sheltered disenfranchised groups while they gained the momentum to fight for their rights.

A long-standing scholarly emphasis on ideology has been augmented by the recognition that social movements also depend on a common identity as a basis for action. This distinction differentiates “old” from “new” social movements. “Old movements” are based on economic and class interests that mobilize participants to address injustices through a shared ideology, while “new movements” emphasize a common identity.2 Second Wave feminism incorporated both. On the one hand, radical feminists proposed that women were a class, thereby centering them squarely in a Marxist ideology.3 Other feminists underscored formerly weak dimensions of identity, such as sexual preference, as a common bond. Developing positive identities requires mem- bers to reject the dominant, oppressive society and create their own values

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and structures.4 At its extreme, this leads to lesbians creating male-free com- munities. Some feminists used disruptive tactics to refute old identities.5 In 1968 the New York Radical Women staged guerilla theater actions at the Miss America beauty pageant in Atlantic City. To protest women’s being judged only by their looks, about 150 demonstrators crowned a sheep as Miss America, then tossed their bras, high-heeled shoes, girdles, and hair curlers into a “freedom trash can.” They never burned the contents, but the media gleefully portrayed feminists as “bra burners” ever after.6

According to the sociologists Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, mass defiance is most disruptive when protesters withdraw a crucial contri- bution from the institution that depends on it; they have their greatest polit- ical impact when powerful groups have large stakes in the disrupted institu- tion. Those in power must also possess resources to grant if the protesters are to be satisfied.7 This theory was translated into practice when Second Wave feminists challenged the very institution of marriage, urging wives to demand that their husbands help with housekeeping and child care. Release from sole responsibility for domestic tasks, the thinking went, would enable women to establish full public citizenship. Men were less enthusiastic; it would be hard to overstate their investment in traditional marriage. Their ability to earn a living depended heavily on women’s unpaid work at home. And in the late 1970s most people in the United States supported that arrangement. National opinion polls revealed that approximately two-thirds of men and women agreed that it was “much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.”8 Feminists thus faced a skeptical audience when they tried to convince women that there were alternatives to marriage and the typical division of household labor. Eventually, though, feminists’ attitudes began to permeate society. By 1986 about one-half of women and men believed that wives should care for the home while men earned a living outside it.9

Such significant social change required feminists to create places where women could learn to demand it. A long line of social movements set the example. The abolition, suffrage, temperance, settlement house, and civil rights movements all changed the use of urban space. The Second Wave was next in line.

Historical Precedents

Social movements almost always alter the use of space, inevitably producing conflict in the process. Changes may be deliberate or unintentional, and they

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include both the destruction of existing places and the creation of new ones. Abolition is a prime example.

From the mid-eighteenth century until the Civil War, slave markets were central features in southern cities like New Orleans, Louisiana; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington, DC. Richmond’s flourishing slave trade between the 1830s and the 1860s spawned a dense network of auction houses, slave jails, and auxiliary businesses in the downtown commercial district.10 Dur- ing the same era, abolitionists and African American ministers created safe havens in churches and homes along the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping the South. The black church was central to the “geography of resistance” developed by African Americans in search of freedom; it served as the black community’s political and social gathering place as well as its spiritual center.11

Bishop Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination, was known as the “Apostle of Freedom” because he and his wife, Sarah, used the basement of their Philadelphia AME church to shelter escaped slaves; they also opened their home to fugitives. In 1822 the minister William Paul Quinn was inspired by Allen to found the Bethel AME Church in the heart of Pittsburgh, which soon became a station on the Underground Railroad, as did the Cincinnati AME church. Across the country, black congregations operated way stations, with ministers as their active agents. Many destinations in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio eventually became free black communities for those who could make it that far.12 When the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in 1863, slave markets were demolished, and the stops on the Underground Railroad were returned to their original uses.

A significant geographic change also occurred, over many years, as a result of abolition. The vast majority of former slaves lived in the rural South and had inadequate resources to leave immediately after being freed. By the turn of the twentieth century, though, African Americans began an exodus to Northern and Midwestern cities. They were encouraged to move by the nation’s best-selling black newspaper, the Chicago Defender, which called for a “Great Northern Drive” to begin on May 15, 1917. Within a few decades, the majority of African Americans lived outside the South.13 If one counts migration as spatial redistribution, the exodus of such an enormous number of blacks from one part of the country to another is indeed a significant spatial change wrought by a social movement.

Abolition laid the political groundwork for the suffrage movement.14 Since suffragists could demonstrate for their rights in ways that slaves could not, white women had more power to appropriate public space.

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Known as the First Wave by today’s scholars, the suffrage movement began with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. The abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott met in 1840 at the World Anti-Slavery Conven- tion in London. Each had accompanied her husband, and both were pre- vented from speaking at the all-male convention. Angered, Stanton and Mott vowed to hold a women’s rights conference when they returned home.15 Exclusion from the all-male space in London motivated Stanton and Mott to create the all-female space of the Seneca Falls Convention at the Wesleyan Church, where they participated in the writing of the convention’s Declara- tion of Sentiments, which included the demand for woman suffrage.16

The First Wave encouraged women to appear together in public. Suf- fragists gathered at conventions and paraded in the streets as forms of politi- cal activity. Stanton remembered, “I could not see what to do or where to begin—my only thought was a public meeting for protest and discussion.”17 Stanton, Mott, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Antoinette Brown mobilized other women with their lyceum lectures, conventions, and legislative committee hearings.18 On March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, more than five thousand suffragists took to the streets of Washington, DC, on behalf of their cause. Mobs heckled, tripped, and shoved the women, sending more than one hun- dred to the hospital and injuring hundreds more. Media outrage over the violence was so great that the Senate convened hearings the following week. One of the senators reminded the protesters that “there would be nothing like this happen [sic] if you would stay at home,” but the march earned public sympathy that would eventually translate into support for the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.19 Women understood the power of their unprecedented visibility in the city.

Suffrage was controversial because it demanded rights for women. Tem- perance, though, was a respectable endeavor for women because it revolved around church and home. By the end of the nineteenth century most suf- fragists were supporters of temperance, and most temperance advocates were in favor of suffrage.20

The temperance movement had a specific spatial agenda—to close saloons. This was the means to save the family from the moral perils of alcoholism. Temperance was also an indirect avenue for improving women’s rights. Since wives had no control over their husband’s wages, men could drink away their paychecks at the corner bar. The loss of family income meant mothers and children went hungry and unclothed. Drunken men might also beat their wives and children. It was easy to make the connections between alco- hol, poverty, and violence. Eliminating alcohol would go a long way, the

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thinking went, toward ensuring women the rights to food, shelter, and physi- cal safety.21

To this end, the American Temperance Society, including both women and men, was formed in 1826.22 In 1879 women formed their own organi- zation, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). With Frances Willard as its president for nearly two decades, the WCTU was the largest women’s organization of its day.23 Across the nation, members of the WCTU marched from their churches to saloons, singing and praying for barkeepers to shutter their doors.24 Closing a bar did more than eliminate a source of alcohol. The nineteenth-century saloon was a social center where men could play cards or pool, talk about politics and sports, find a job, or spend time while unemployed. The saloon also filled more basic needs. It had a public bathroom, was often the only place to get a drink of water, and served “free lunches” for the price of a beer.25 Most women, of course, never entered a saloon; it was a male-only space. The shock of seeing women kneeling and praying in a barroom was one of the WCTU’s most effective strategies in its crusade to banish alcohol.26

While saloons were being closed, members of the WCTU were opening new places in the city. Willard issued guidelines about how to set up local headquarters, temperance coffee rooms, Friendly Inns (a type of settlement house), and homes for inebriate women. Spaces that already existed were put to new uses. The coffee rooms were to include reading areas, and the Friendly Inns established manufacturing shops in which men could trade their labor for food and lodging.27 Temperance women gained victory when Prohibi- tion became national law in 1920—the same year women won the right to vote. Although Prohibition was repealed in 1933, women had proved they could exert political pressure and modify the urban landscape, even without the vote.28

The settlement house movement was a similar effort, not only fighting for the rights of women and children, but also adapting existing urban space for its purposes. Drawing inspiration from London’s male-only Toynbee Hall, Jane Addams and other college-educated white women feminized the US version of the settlement house movement at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1889 Addams and Ellen Gates Starr established Hull-House settlement on Halsted Street in Chicago in a home originally built in 1856 for Charles J. Hull. The house had been used as a secondhand furniture store and as an old-age home before Addams and Starr rented it from Hull’s niece, Helen Culver. In the next twenty years Hull-House expanded from one building to thirteen.29 It became the most famous in a network of set- tlement houses, including Hiram House in Cleveland and Denison House

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in Boston, which eventually numbered more than four hundred across the country.30

The social settlement was a new use of space in the city. Residents appro- priated existing places, most often in a converted home or row house, to serve as a “neighborhood living room” where immigrants could escape their dingy and overcrowded quarters. Its agenda included the educational purposes of a school, the social role of a club, the recreational functions of a gym, and the cultural goals of a museum. It was a distinctly secular place. Although Addams invoked the Social Gospel when founding Hull-House, she later discontinued its interdenominational services because she believed residents came together over their common goals rather than a shared faith.31 For the volunteers who lived there, it was a site of work, leisure, and coop- erative housekeeping. By entering the new profession of settlement house worker, middle-class women could justifiably live apart from their families, and in lower-income neighborhoods at that—a radical choice. The settle- ment house was thus a refuge for independent women in an era before women could vote and when they had few occupational choices.

The settlement house movement harnessed the energies of hundreds of educated women and men to assimilate European immigrants into the industrializing city. Residents were concerned about citizenship rights for immigrants when the rest of the country was consumed by xenophobia. Hull-House, in fact, was the first settlement house in the United States to offer citizenship preparation classes.32 Addams recognized the importance of the building itself when she wrote that it “clothed in brick and mor- tar and made visible to the world that which we were trying to do; they [the buildings] stated to Chicago that education and recreation ought to be extended to immigrants.”33 Women who lived in the house and those who volunteered daily saved newcomers from the worst conditions of urban life, and in the process they saved the city from the social unrest inherent in such an enormous influx of strangers. The public baths, libraries, kindergartens, and clinics under the settlement house roof were eventually spun off into independent facilities paid for by municipalities.34

In terms of spatial consequences, the Second Wave is most similar to the settlement house movement. Feminists saw the need for rape counseling, contraceptive information, and help for victims of domestic abuse before localities acknowledged the problems. The intensity of activists’ efforts to create spaces where these services could be delivered is reminiscent of the passion with which volunteers opened the settlement house to improve the lives of immigrants. Both volunteers and activists of the Second Wave successfully adapted existing spaces for a different use. Just as settlement

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residents invented an occupation for themselves, feminists shaped new jobs in their own health-care clinics and bookstores. And the spatial institutions each built were considered radical for their era.35

The social movement historically and ideologically closest to the Second Wave was the mid-twentieth-century civil rights movement. At its heart lay the black church, made up of Baptists, Presbyterians, and members of AME congregations and numerous smaller denominations. The church was the only institution blacks could own and control, and it played a critical role in more than religious life: it was also the center of social and political activi- ties. African American ministers had the power to mobilize the entire black community from the pulpit, and clergymen sanctioned protests as a Chris- tian response to oppression. The people originally in charge of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), in fact, were overwhelmingly black ministers. One of its founders, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, described the SCLC as “the black church coming alive . . . across denominational and geographical lines.”36 Most important, the church was a free space in which members could plan tactics and strategies for, and collectively commit them- selves to, the struggle for equal rights.37

The civil rights movement was a fight for the vote and for access to spaces of the city from which African Americans were historically barred. Segregated from whites in public facilities since the Jim Crow era, African Americans realized the penalties associated with confinement to black spaces. Civil rights protesters fought to integrate white institutions in order to ben- efit from their significant resources. They demanded equal access to white schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, public transit, and workplaces. Places of leisure like municipal swimming pools and movie theaters were also tar- geted.38 Fortified by sermons on racial justice, African Americans fought in the courts and through demonstrations to integrate the city under the auspices of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peo- ple (NAACP, founded in 1910), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE, founded in 1942), the SCLC (founded in 1957), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, founded in 1960).39

Although these groups were dedicated to non-violence, nearly every civil rights protest triggered vicious retaliation from whites. Black students inte- grating Little Rock High School in Arkansas were spit on by white students and their parents. The infamous Sheriff Eugene “Bull” Connor turned police dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama. A bomb planted by the Ku Klux Klan at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Bap- tist Church killed four young black girls in 1963.40 To say that white schools and neighborhoods were contested terrain would be an understatement.

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Racially restrictive covenants prevented African Americans from buying property in white neighborhoods and real estate agents would show African Americans property only in black neighborhoods (a practice known as racial steering). If those legal options failed, bombings and shootings ensured that blacks who had the courage to integrate would soon want to leave.41

Events in “Bombingham” influenced President John F. Kennedy to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in employ- ment and public accommodations. That same year, Congress passed the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed fees Afri- can Americans had to pay in order to vote (the poll tax) in federal elections. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made state poll taxes and literacy tests illegal and authorized federal supervision of voter registration. The successes of the civil rights movement may not have changed the way whites thought, but it did change the way they were expected and required to act. No longer could restaurants legally refuse service to African Americans; nor could movie the- aters have a separate “colored” entrance.42

Legal changes came too slowly for younger blacks, and they eventually fought back using the violent tactics directed for so long toward them. More than one hundred riots occurred in cities across the country in 1967. The Kerner Commission, quickly assembled by President Lyndon B. Johnson to assess the damage, reported that nearly one hundred people were killed and millions of dollars in property destroyed, primarily in black business dis- tricts. The commission’s report concluded that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white—separate and unequal.”43 More riots ensued after King was assassinated in April 1968. Burned-out commercial corridors in the riot cities discouraged reinvestment for decades, an unin- tended consequence of blacks’ anger over their second-class citizenship.

Similarities between blacks’ and women’s experiences (excepting the role of the church) were not lost on white feminists, many of whom gained political skills in the civil rights movement.44 NOW was modeled on the NAACP, as were its strategies for action. The overlap between the feminist and civil rights movements was symbolically sealed when King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963, the same year The Feminine Mystique gave voice to the Second Wave.45

Second Wave Feminism

The sense of inequality that sparked the Second Wave was, in a way, a prod- uct of World War II. Returning veterans could enroll in college courtesy of the GI Bill, and, if white, buy a house in the suburbs. Women who had

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worked for the war effort at home were accorded no such benefits. Displaced from the labor force to make way for men, women got married and started families. Both babies and suburbs were booming between the late 1940s and early 1960s. The birth rate soared in the midst of unprecedented prosperity. Large families demanded time, and few women were employed. In 1955 only one-third of all women, and about one-quarter of mothers, were in the labor force (see figure 3).46

One early feminist was particularly rankled by women’s relegation to the home. Betty Friedan detected a “strange stirring” among US women in the 1950s. That stirring was the dissatisfaction that suburban housewives experi- enced when they realized that being only a wife and mother was insufficient for a fulfilling life. Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique identified the “problem that has no name” as the assumption, accepted by both women and men, that women were destined for domestic tasks while men engaged in intellectual and economic pursuits.

It is difficult in 2016 to imagine the society in which such stereotypes prevailed. Assuming that women would become only wives and mothers was as common then as presuming that blacks were fit only to be janitors and maids. African Americans recognized the source of their oppression and fought white privileges through the civil rights movement, but women were slower to perceive men’s vested interests in maintaining a (largely invisible) dominance. The Feminine Mystique changed that. It gave women the language with which to identify common interests and alter power relations between the sexes. According to the sociologist Stephanie Coontz, “The Feminine Mystique has been credited—or blamed—for destroying, single-handedly and almost overnight, the 1950s consensus that women’s place was in the home.”47

In addition to The Feminine Mystique, another significant publication in 1963 marked the arrival of the Second Wave: the final report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. It became the catalyst for Friedan and other feminists to form NOW in 1966. The President’s Commission stimulated the formation of women’s commissions in every state. The network of representatives from state commissions, in turn, pro- duced the leaders and core members of the reform branch of the women’s movement.

Second Wave feminism consisted of two major camps, the reformers and the radical activists. Members of NOW, the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL), and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) were liber- als known as “rights” or “reform” feminists for their commitment to wom- en’s equality with men. These women, many of whom were professionals, sued for enforcement of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, for example, which had

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languished unenforced before NOW made employment discrimination an issue for national attention. Intense lobbying by members of all three orga- nizations pushed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through Congress in 1972 (although it was never ratified by the requisite number of states).

Both NOW and WEAL lobbied ceaselessly for passage of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 and for subsequent lawsuits to ensure its implementation. Title IX is most often associated with increasing girls’ and women’s access to sports. Before its passage, intercollegiate athlet- ics existed for women, but their teams had to supply their own uniforms, practice in inferior conditions, and pay for food and lodging when on the road for competitions. Title IX required schools to ensure greater resources for women’s sports. In 1970 colleges had an average of 2.5 w

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