Just for You: Women’s Studies Students, Faculty, and Scholars

  1. Text references
    1. Women Strike for Peace – Definitions of feminism; the evolution of women’s roles in protest/resistance; wielding power the feminist way; and feminist strategies for organizing. 1961-67,  pp.59 -71
    2. A Woman’s Place is in the House -- Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Barbara Jordan in Congress. 1971-76, pp126 -133
    3. The National Women’s Political Caucus and a women’s agenda for the 1972 presidential campaign. 1972, pp136- 147
    4. Organizing a conference, neutralizing the opposition, building a Movement – the National Women’s Conference in Houston. 1977, pp. 196-214
    5. Going Global – Bella Abzug as an international activist who changed the UN and became a model to women around the world. 1990-98, pp.263-279
    6. The personal is political – Raising a family; living the commitment.  1949-1984, pp. 35-44

  2. Thought questions (Download pdf)
    1. The history of feminism
      1. How did Bella Abzug’s feminism develop, and what forces influenced its development?  When did she overtly claim the badge of feminism?
      2. What were the different strands of the women’s movement in the 60s and 70s? 
      3. What strains were apparent in the movement during Bella Abzug’s campaigns for Congress in 1970, and how did she deal with them?
    2.  “A Woman’s Place is in the House”
      1. What were the traditional roles women played in mid-century American society, and how did Bella Abzug help break stereotypes and carve out a new “place” for women in that society? To what extent have women occupied that space fully today?
      2. How did Bella Abzug’s personal life drive her professional life, and how did her professional life affect and inform her personal life?  
    3. Intersectionality 
      1. How did Bella Abzug understand the connections between race, class, and gender?  How was that understanding reflected in her work?
      2. What were the theoretical underpinnings, the basic understandings, that supported Bella Abzug as she moved from a domestic agenda to a global one? 
    4. Theory, commitment, and action
      1. Bella Abzug was a woman of action.  But her actions were based on solid understandings and analyses of the world around her. How did those understandings inform her work for social justice, and how did her work shape her understandings?

  3. In Their Own Words: Quotes for Discussion (Download pdf)
    1. “I didn’t speak out of the mother culture.  I did speak about our children.  I cared about that, but I also spoke about the rights that women had – that women had a right to peace, not only for the sake of their children.  It was in some ways a little humiliating to me.  A little insulting.” (Bella Abzug p. 63)
    2. “[In Women Strike for Peace], we were much more free.  You don’t have to go to a board meeting because we make decisions through a telephone tree.  So we were able to act on the spot. I have always enjoyed working with women because there a fewer boundaries and impediments and areas of potential conflict.  It is always easier to come to a confluence of opinion.” (Bella Abzug p. 69)
    3. “I began to realize that my response to her [Bella] was my problem, not hers.  If I was afraid to see Bella being a whole person, anger and all, that was because I was still afraid to be a whole person myself. (Gloria Steinem p. 70)
    4. “I worked with a lot of civil rights activists, and I worked with a lot of women’s rights activists, and there were many people in both movements who kind of sacrificed the other movement…. But the two of them [Bella and Shirley Chisholm] were just constant in their articulation that we cannot deal with these issues separately, they’re inextricably connected, and we’re going to be the stronger if we work in coalition.” (Nadine Hack p. 129)
    5. “…mainstream feminism has evolved into the most broadly based movement for egalitarianism that America possesses… The women’s movement is now a truly national, unified engine of change which could conceivably become the cutting edge of the most important human issues America faces in the next decade.”  (London Evening Standard on the Houston Convention p. 213)
    6. “So you’d have a strong, clear message coming from a lot of forces working together – women of color, women in the labor community, political women, movement women.  I haven’t seen that kind of action from the women’s community in a long time.” (Martha Baker p. 236)