Explore women’s issues affected by 20th century events. Such as the Depression, WWII, and the Women’s Movement.
This assignment gives students the chance to explore women’s issues directly from women who were affected by various events in the 20th century, such as the Depression, WWII, and the Women’s Movement. The assignment also provides a forum through which to draw powerful parallels between living women and the women whose lives have been chronicled in the readings in this course.
The assignment requires students to interview 3 women from 3 different generations. The subjects should cover at least 20-40 years difference in time (longer if possible). Thus, a student may choose to interview a 19-year-old, a 40-year-old, and a 70-year-old in completing the assignment. The women do not have to be relatives. A written summation is required in submitting the paper.
The written report should include:
The questions listed below are guides. You do not have to ask all of the questions of each interview subject. However, you should ask the same set of questions to each subject to establish fair comparison in the follow-up assessment. Finally, included in the overall analysis, there should be connections between the interviews and the course materials, most notably the text.
The feminist movement in the United States and abroad was a social and political movement that sought to establish equality for women. The movement transformed the lives of many individual women and exerted a profound effect upon American society throughout the twentieth century.
During the first two decades of the century, women’s groups in the United States worked together to win women’s suffrage, culminating in the ratification of a constitutional amendment in 1920 that guaranteed women the right the vote. During the later twentieth century, women’s groups would again band together, this time to formulate and advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Though this proposed constitutional amendment ultimately failed to gain approval in the late 1970s, it became a rallying point for diverse women’s groups and drew national attention to the feminist cause.
The period between 1917 and the early 1960s was marked by two world wars and a subsequent economic boom that brought many American women into the workplace, initially to provide labor during the war, and then to help achieve and maintain a new higher standard of living enjoyed by many middle-class families. However, as women joined the workforce they became increasingly aware of their unequal economic and social status. Women who were homemakers, many with college educations, began to articulate their lack of personal fulfillment—what Betty Friedan in her enormously influential The Feminine Mystique (1963) called “the problem that has no name.”
Other events in the United States, notably the civil rights movement, contributed to the rise of the feminist movement. During the early 1960s, the civil rights movement gathered momentum, aided by new anti-racist legislation, and reached a major goal in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Many feminists interpreted the ban on racial discrimination, established by the Civil Rights Act, to apply to gender discrimination as well. The student movement was also at its height in the 1960s, leading many younger citizens to question traditional social values and to protest against American military involvement in Vietnam. Feminist groups followed the example set by these movements, adopting the techniques of consciousness raising, protests, demonstrations, and political lobbying in order to further their own agenda.