Few books are more current than ‘Woman’

Woman: American history of an idea
By Lillian Faderman
to 2022, Yale University Press
$ 32.50 / 571 pages

Until I read “Woman: American history of an idea,” the fascinating new book by Lillian Faderman, revolutionary feminist scholar LGBTQ, I did not know that women who were tramps felt freer during the Depression.

“For thousands of women, depression was strangely liberating,” writes Faderman, professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno. “They were poor and without foot, and they have found a new way to snub the conventions of how a woman should live.”

This is just one of the many things I learned from “Woman”.

I had no idea that housewives and mothers – June Cleaver, Harriet Nelson and Donna Reed – were not the only images of women on television 1950 Who knew, writes Faderman, “TV offered some against-imagery surprising? »

In the 1950s, women’s roller derby games were on television. “It seems that 70% of viewers were women,” she wrote, “attracted perhaps by the daring and bold image of women as being the opposite of what it was supposed to be.”

“Woman” makes it clear that America was frightened by women who have sex outside of procreation in a straight marriage since the Puritans arrived here in the 1600s.

“It is” the hour of sex in America, “said William Marion Reedy, editor of a newspaper in 1913. He feared that sex is everywhere – movies theaters. “He believed that the purity of the woman was decried” wrote Faderman.

“Woman” is a complete history of the concept of women in this country since the days of the Puritans to our #MeToo era, fluid and not binary.

Few books are more current than “Woman.”

In the era of Coney Amy Barrett “when the future of Roe v. Wade is fragile, there is much to learn from “Woman.”

“Woman” does not tell us how we can overcome the backlash against feminism and civil rights movements (civil rights of blacks to the rights of LGBTQ). No book, as complete as it is, could do.

But “Woman” gives us the knowledge and perspective.

The belief that the role of a woman is to marry and have children did not begin with Phyllis Schlafly, the lawyer who led the campaign against the amendment on equal rights.

In the 1600s, Europeans who came to America believed that women’s place was in the home. In 1645, reports Faderman, the governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, John Winthrop, lamented in his diary that Edward Hopkins, governor of the Connecticut colony, has left his wife, who had not given it to children away from “the place where God had placed”. It allowed him to “devote himself to reading and writing,” wrote Winthrop.

There have been advances and backlash against feminism while the idea of women changed throughout American history.

Take World War II. During the war, Rosie the Riveter encouraged women to work. At the end of the war, women were urged to move their work clothes and aprons to return to their home kitchens as soon as possible.

Too often, indigenous women, women of color, women of the working class and immigrant women were (and still are) excluded by white feminists feminism and women’s history.

Fortunately, “Woman” contributes greatly to break this pattern of exclusion.

Faderman wrote about the cruelties inflicted on women enslaved by plantation owners, American feminist leaders of Asian origin, racism many white suffragettes and how whites have forced indigenous women to give up their culture.

Faderman, 81, who is white, wrote movingly about his experience as a student of Hollenbeck Junior High School in East Los Angeles. It was written Faderman, the daughter of an immigrant, “an unmarried Jewish women from Eastern Europe who made his living by sewing dresses in a clothing factory in downtown Los Angeles.”

She felt a connection with her Mexican-American classmates, many of whom, like her, are daughters of immigrants. In response to “stifling mores” of their parents, many of them “are committed in small off-the-law” written Faderman.

“I, too, was a kind of juvenile delinquent,” wrote Faderman, who is a lesbian, “because I had already discovered my sexuality outside-the-law and that I would soon be in bars gays girls showing a fake ID that says I was an adult. “

I have two chicanes with “Woman”. Throughout American history, women with disabilities have experienced sexism and ableism. I wish “Woman” has included women with disabilities in its mosaic of women’s history.

I would have liked to see in “Woman” more information on what is happening with the genre and its impact on the idea that America is women. But maybe the generation Z and historians are best placed to talk about.

The books of Faderman to “Outperform male love” to “Harvey Milk: his life and death”, are touchstones for the LGBTQ community. “Woman,” also will be a rite of passage for generations of LGBTQ people.

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