Essay Writing Samples

Challenging Notions of Womanhood: A Chronological Narrative

Women have been fighting for their rights for many years, and it was not until recently that women achieved full equality with men. This sample sociology paper offers a chronological narrative of the changing world of women.

A chronological analysis of changes themes of feminism

In challenging traditional notions of womanhood in terms of citizenship, labor, and sport, women prevailed during the women suffrage movement and higher social status while facing opposition from the 1800’s up through today. Leading up to 1920, notable figures like Alice Paul and Harriot Blatch led the way in many changes in America that challenged previously established notions of the role and status of women in society.

Surely, the road leading up to the passing of the 19th amendment was a long struggle that required women to confront the very fabric of society that ruled it (MacBain-Stephens). However, the prominent role of both individuals and organizations made that possible. Despite facing widespread criticism, leaders like Harriot Blatch worked towards unity through calling to the middle-class women in New York that did not know how to approach the movement (Adams, 44).

She enticed them to join organizations like the NAWSA, which took a strong approach to fighting for equality. Jennifer MacBain-Stephens argued that despite opposition from society:

“NAWSA started to take on a life of its own and placed women in the political spotlight” (20).

The political opposition was widespread and included politicians and even a government that deterred domestic issues at the expense of international conflict and war.

The government’s role as protector of democracy

However, as the US sought to define its role as a defender of democracy and sovereign of equal rights, women advocated the notion that they had to be treated equally as well. Political opposition was strong, especially in regards to women meeting openly to discuss such difficult issues. For example, Alice Paul redefined the role of women by staging a crowd of 5,000 women in Washington DC in 1913 (Adams, 46).

In doing so, Paul fought against Washington, society and even Woodrow Wilson, a president known for his dismissal of equal rights legislation. Nonetheless, women like Paul persevered in defining the role of women as being entitled to the same rights as men. With groups such as the League of Women Voters and others, women showed that they could organize at a mass scale in order to get the attention of policymakers.

The role of women during WWII

The role of women was reshaped economically through WWII because they showed that they were capable of adding value to the much needed domestic workforce during the war. One figure, Florence Kelley, who advocated for women’s labor, also challenged the traditional notions of women’s roles by arguing:

“35,000 voteless women…could not carry the same weight as thirty-five voting men” (Addams et al, 60).

Despite the fact that women proved to be an invaluable resource during the war, they were still nonetheless subject to the inherent criticisms and difficulties as in previous times when men returned from war. As a result, feminist labor during WWII showed that women were capable of doing men’s work and performing (Addams et al, 31). This extended further past just manual labor too.

As the work of Elanor Roosevelt demonstrated, women had their place in intellectual circles as well as factories. For example, despite raising the concern of:

“how could I be a delegate to help organize the United Nations when I have no background or experience…,” Roosevelt showed that she was more than capable of doing high level, intellectual work (Glendon, 20).

Again, the role of women was redefined to broaden their scope past menial work, pink collar jobs and into government work that impacted the world as a whole.

America’s policy toward’s women following WWII

The years following WWII also reflected women’s ability to challenge traditional notions of womanhood in male dominated facets of society like sports. For instance, Nancy Spencer argued that Billie Jean King set off a third wave of feminism in winning a notable tennis match against Bobby Riggs; consequently, as she directly challenged traditional notions of male dominance in the sport, she elevated the status of women to be up to par with men (Spencer).

Also, legislation such as Title IX worked towards combating negative stereotypes of women in the field of sport. Mary Kane argued that not only did Title IX challenge social conventions of how women were regarded within the sport, but media coverage post-Title IX also reflected much more egalitarianism, respect, and acceptance of women in sport (Kane). The years past the 1970’s also reflected more direct evidence of women’s changing roles in American society as they emerged as being strong advocates of equal pay that challenged domesticity.

Works Cited

Adams, Colleen. Women’s Suffrage: A Primary Source History of the Women’s Rights Movement in America. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2003. Print.

Addams, Jane, Earl Barnes, and Mary Beard. Women in public life. Philadelphia: Google Digital Publishing, 1914. Print.

Glendon, Mary. A World Made New: Elanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: Trade Paperbacks, 2001. Print.

Kane, Mary. “Media coverage of the female athlete before, during, and after Title IX: Sports Illustrated revisited.” Journal of Sport Management 2.2 (1988): 87-99. Print.

McBain-Stephens, Jennifer. Women’s Suffrage: Giving the Right to Vote to All Americans. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2006. Print.

Spencer, Nancy. “Reading Between the Lines: A Discursive Analysis of the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes”.” Sociology of Sport Journal 17.4 (2000): 386-402. Print.

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