Monday, April 10, 2017

Cult of Domesticity

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. O'Connell's talk on the "Cult of Domesticity". She opened with an interesting question that really intrigued me. It was "Why did 53% of white women vote for Donald Trump?" I had never looked up the statistic on this or really thought about it. Donald Trump said many vulgar and rude comments about women but clearly it did not stop the majority of white women from voting for him. Ms. O'Connell constructed a very clever argument in that when women protested during the suffrage movement to gain more rights, there were always women working against them.
Now it makes sense to me why Ms. O'Connell had us read articles from both sides of the argument. In Steinem's article, she promotes equality for women and men, and raises some gender myths. These myths include women being biologically inferior to men, women already being equal in society, women already holding great economic power, their responsibility to be full time mothers to the children, and how the women's movement is not serious. With all these issues, she also brings up something known as "Internalized Aggression" which means women accepting these myths as their place in society. I think she was trying to get at an explanation for why some women are against furthering their own rights and seeking equality. When I was reading Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong With Equal Rights for Women" I was exposed to a new perspective that I had never really thought of. Women fighting against women's rights. It doesn't make sense? I thought. However, as Ms. O'Connell pointed out, Schlafly in some respect is trying to protect women's rights. She argues that many women already live a privileged life as far as rights go. They don't have to live with the fright of being drafted to war, they legally get child support and alimony from their husband, and the workplace protects them.
Along with discussing the articles Ms. O'Connell talked about feminism in history and in particular the focus on the women's suffrage movement. Republican Motherhood was another interesting topic we talked about. This basically set the traditional roles up for women and men up until modern times. Women were expected to stay at home and tend for the children, while men worked. Although women had the specific job of caring for her kids and doing all the housework, they also felt pressure from religion and the nation to raise their children to be good citizens. Many upper class white women were actually opposed to the women's suffrage movement. I thought this was interesting because their reasoning kind of made sense. Most women did not want to deal with societal disruptions or change. They liked the way they lived; they were privileged and most of all were afraid of change. I think today this is a very common belief. Women still live by it today, and it can somewhat be related to Ms. O'Connell's question regarding why the majority of white women voted for Trump. I think it is interesting how Ms. O'Connell related history to current events, and I thought she did it in a really compelling way, and exposed me to another viewpoint.

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