From Suffrage to #MeToo: Movements that Shaped Women’s History

Bloomsbury Collections is celebrating Women’s History Month with a walk through some of the social and political movements that have helped pave the road to gender equality: from the pioneers of suffrage, to the architects of second-wave feminism, to the first heroes of the #MeToo movement.

Scroll down to take a tour of the movements and individuals committed to protecting women’s voices and freedoms.

Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

The fight to receive voting rights was an arduous one, with a range of advocates lending their voices to the debate. One of those voices belonged to Helen Keller, who overcame deafness and blindness from birth to become a writer, reformer, and suffragist. Her essay “Why Men Need Suffrage,” first published in the New York Call on October 17, 1913, is an astute example of the suffragist perspective presented at a time when such a view was considered controversial.

This essay is part of Women’s Suffrage: The Complete Guide to The Nineteenth Amendment, a comprehensive collection of primary sources, references, and analyses for researchers exploring this vital movement.

Birth Control and Physical Autonomy

Current debates about birth control can be surprisingly volatile, especially given the near-universal use of contraception among American and British women. In her book Conceived in Modernism: The Aesthetics and Politics of Birth Control, Aimee Armande Wilson examines these debates through a literary lens, considering the different ways modernist writers from Virginia Woolf to Octavia Butler view the importance of physical autonomy for women.

In this sample chapter, Wilson looks at Butler’s novel Dawn, which compels readers to see birth control as a necessary precondition of fundamental personhood.

Click here to explore Conceived in Modernism: The Aesthetics and Politics of Birth Control.

Second-Wave Feminism and The Feminine Mystique

While first-wave feminism addressed suffrage and fundamental issues of equality such as voting and property rights, second-wave feminism began in the early 1960s, focusing on issues of family, reproductive rights, and equality in the workplace. At the core of this movement was Betty Friedan and her seminal book The Feminine Mystique, which challenged existing beliefs that women could only find fulfillment as wives and mothers.

The sample essay from Feminist Moments: Reading Feminist Texts, a collection examining pivotal tests in the history of feminist thought, explores Friedan’s book and the influences that shaped its thesis.

Click here to explore Feminist Moments: Reading Feminist Texts.

Title IX and Equality in Sports

Many historians say that the world of sports remains the last frontier when it comes to gender equality. Authors Adrienne N. Milner and Jomills Henry Braddock II advocate for the increase of gender comingling in professional sports and school athletics in their book Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not Equal, examining the landscape of sports through both historical and sociological perspectives.

In this provided chapter, Milner and Braddock examine the history and impact of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Click here to explore Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not Equal.

The #MeToo Movement

While it is widely believed that the #MeToo Movement began in 2017 with the public realization of filmmaker Harvey Weinstein’s mistreatment of women, the movement actually got its start a decade earlier in 2006, when Tarana Burke, founder and director of the Just Be Inc. youth organization, heard a young girl share a traumatic abuse experience in an all-girl group bonding session. Since then, the now famous phrase “Me Too” has galvanized women and allies who have intensified the fight against sexual harassment and assault.

This sample chapter from Laurie Collier Hillstrom’s book The #MeToo Movement offers researchers an overview of the movement’s evolution within a historical context, including a look at the criticism and debates it has provoked.

Click here to explore The #MeToo Movement.

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