A People's Read-a-long! We're reading a chapter a week, and the pace is perfect. (Missed the first five weeks? Check out my posts for weeks one, two, three, four, and five.)
My thoughts: Chapter 6, entitled "The Intimately Oppressed," focuses on women's roles and the beginnings of the women's rights movement. I majored in women's studies in college, and I already adore many of the key players in this chapter. What I found most interesting in this chapter was how Zinn placed the early women's movement within context of the rest of the book:
"Putting all women into the same category—giving them all the same domestic sphere to cultivate—created a classification (by sex) which blurred the lines of class, as Nancy Cott points out."It's a fascinating concept, and one I had not thought of earlier, even though it sounds quite obvious in retrospect. In this sense, it becomes much more difficult to treat women the same way blacks, Native Americans, and even poor white people were treated.
I was also intrigued by this notion of women in education:
"Middle-class women, barred from higher education, began to monopolize the profession of primary-school teaching. As teachers, they read more, communicated more, and education itself became subversive of old ways of thinking. They began to write for magazines and newspapers, and started some ladies’ publications. Literacy among women doubled between 1780 and 1840. Women became health reformers. They formed movements against double standards in sexual behavior and the victimization of prostitutes. They joined in religious organizations. Some of the most powerful of them joined the antislavery movement."With women overseeing the care and education of children, boys and girls, there were fascinating consequences. I was thrilled to see literary double among women, but I wish Zinn had shared what those rates were.
I found this chapter fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed feeling smart for knowing so much of this chapter already. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the excerpts from early American feminists in Voice of a People's History of the United States this week. I've also been listening to Amy Ray's first solo album, Stag, incessantly since I read this chapter. I wrote a paper about her song "Lucy Stoners" in college, and the entire album takes me back to my college apartment, where I first read so many of those original writings and speeches.
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