TitleTaking the white gloves off
NameEstepa, Andrea (author), Hewitt, Nancy A (chair), Lawson, Steven (internal member), Cobble, Dorothy Sue (internal member), Carroll, Susan (outside member), Gordon, Linda (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Women--Political activity--United States,
Women's rights--United States--History--20th century,
Feminism--United States--History--20th century,
Women Strike for Peace--Political activity
DescriptionThis study revises the standard narrative of 1960s political and social history by arguing that Women Strike for Peace, an organization that used maternalist rhetoric to protest nuclear weapons testing and the arms race with the Soviet Union, was an integral part of the New Left, challenging the chilling effect of McCarthyism on free speech and political protest and playing a significant role in the movements for racial equality and economic justice and against the Vietnam War. Demographically, WSPers had much in common with the frustrated housewives of Betty Friedan‘s Feminine Mystique. Politically, however, the challenges they posed to Cold War politics as usual as well as their commitment to direct action protest aligned them with Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Like their younger counterparts, WSPers developed non-hierarchical structures and a consensus-based approach to decision-making while designing grassroots organizing campaigns. This study also explores the sometimes competing, sometimes overlapping claims of maternalist and feminist rationales for women‘s social movement activism before, during, and after the heyday of the women‘s liberation movement by focusing on changing uses of and attitudes towards motherhood as a source of political legitimacy and authority. Unlike earlier scholars who have portrayed WSP as being distinct from and even in opposition to the women‘s movement of the 1960s and 70s, I argue that the two were intertwined and mutually influential, not at odds. Both groups believed in the power of sisterhood and the special benefits and pleasures of working in a single-sex context, while also insisting women‘s voices had to be part of broader political and policy debates. Finally, I argue that their efforts to forge new activist identities for American women while juggling the demands of public and private life and trying to achieve personal fulfillment, was the first salvo in a contentious and continuing debate over the significance of motherhood as a political identity, the relationship of motherhood and feminism, and the role women who are mothers can and should play in politics and public life.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Andrea Estepa
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.