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The Forum > Article Comments > Reconstruction lessons > Comments

Reconstruction lessons : Comments

By Eric Foner, published 29/5/2008

Advocates of the rights of African-Americans and women achieved more working together than fighting among themselves.

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I didnít think too many feminists actually fought to end slavery in the US. Most of the people who died on the battle field trying to end slavery during the American civil war were male.

Hillary Clinton must be a something of a problem for many gender prejudiced feminists. Never in American history has someone been so well groomed to run for the Presidency, but is receiving less support in time.

The idea that people are not supporting her because of prejudice is not the case, as so many people (both male and female) are supporting a black candidate. Ultimately Hilary Clinton does not greatly inspire the voter.

The issue of abortion, feminism and the American Presidency is relevant.

President Bill Clinton did not oppose abortion, and treated women rather badly (albeit Monika Lewinski). But because he did not oppose abortion, he was held in high regard by many feminists.

President George Bush has actually introduced a number of programs to help women, (particularly African American women) and has placed a number of women in his executive. But because he does not greatly support abortion, he has been condemned by many feminists.

Feminism = abortion + denigration of the male gender.
Posted by HRS, Thursday, 29 May 2008 9:53:33 AM
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It puzzles me greatly why, in discussions of early feminism the majority of articles go back only to the genesis of American feminism? Its as if no-one anywhere was concerned in the issues of women's rights before the mid nineteenth century American women got into the act.

At the time feminism started in the USA admittedly the world was not so connected as it is now and perhaps, to thousands of American women it was a concept unfamiliar until Cady-Stanton et. al. But it is no wonder that people still tend to think that dissatisfaction with or interest in, societal inequities based on gender only became an issue moderately recently.

I maintain that this inaccurate picture is what leads many to demonise feminism as a new, disruptive force. Countless polemics against feminism contain elements of the opinion that everything was fine until, in recent history, some crazy women started to interrogate the existing status quo.

There are even those who believe that the movement for women's equality only got going in the latter half of the twentieth century with Friedan - and that before this no-one questioned, or even named, patriarchy.

However we know from Greek plays when women took to the hills in protest; from Christian hermits; from Renaissance Italy and from pre-reformation England that this is not so.

English literature provides an empirical history of feminism in England which goes back to the beginning of the 1600's.

If we stopped thinking of the questions of women's rights as a relatively new construct and recognised that it is something that has been engaging society for hundreds of years perspectives might change.
Posted by Romany, Thursday, 29 May 2008 2:49:32 PM
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Romany,
Not all early feminists were abolitionists. In fact there were probably more pro-slavery feminists than abolitionists, (something feminists donít like to mention much).

Feminists did very little to end slavery in the US. There had to be a war before slavery was abolished.

Feminists did very little in the past also, and most societies could not afford to have abortion or feminists. If women in the past didnít have babies, society wouldnít survive.

As far as Hilary Clinton is concerned, her one and only child will not be enough to continue the Clinton clan. Iím not sure if feminists consider that to be a good thing or not.
Posted by HRS, Thursday, 29 May 2008 6:18:13 PM
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