Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dreamers of a New Day: Women who Invented the Twentieth Century

From the Scotsman:
AS Shelia Rowbotham points out towards the end of this excellent account of the contributions made by working-class and middle-class women, radicals and anarchists, mothers and singletons in Britain and America, much of the rights women take for granted today were won by those "who were not at the centre of power, nor were they engaged in heroic acts or glitzed with glamour". As a consequence, most of them have been forgotten.

When Rowbotham writes that, by the 1930s, there seemed to be a "hostility among young women to 'feminism'"; that feminist reformers struggled over how to balance careers with being mothers; that they complained of unequal pay for equal work, we are reminded that there are still so many rights to be fought for, still so many issues to be debated. It is thanks to women like Margaret Macmillan, who fought for school clinics and meals for schoolchildren, or Dora Russell, who campaigned for sex education, or Clementina Black, who spent her life campaigning for the rights of women workers, and who was active on the Women's Industrial Council, that my generation of women can lead the kinds of lives we do. We are not reminded of that fact nearly often enough. Rowbotham's book is that nudge in the ribs we all need.

No comments: