Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand

The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics

Book - 2017
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"Forty years ago, two women's movements drew a line in the sand between liberals and conservatives. The legacy of that rift is still evident today in American politics and social policies, "--NoveList.
"Gloria Steinem was quoted in 2015 (in the New Yorker) as saying the National Women's Conference in 1977 "may take the prize as the most important event nobody knows about." After the United Nations established International Women's Year (IWY) in 1975, Congress mandated and funded state conferences to elect delegates to attend the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977, where Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and other feminists endorsed a platform supporting abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gay rights. Across town, Phyllis Schlafly, Lottie Beth Hobbs, and the conservative women's movement held a massive rally to protest federally funded feminism and launch a pro-family movement. Divided We Stand explores the role social issues have played in politics by reprising the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers, leading to Democrats supporting women's rights and Republicans casting themselves as the party of family values. As the 2016 presidential election made clear, the women's rights movement and the conservative women's movement have irrevocably affected the course of modern American politics. We cannot fully understand the present without appreciating the pivotal events that transpired in Houston and immediately thereafter."--Jacket.
Publisher: New York :, Bloomsbury,, 2017
ISBN: 9781632863140
Characteristics: 436 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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May 12, 2017

Although it's a history, author and professor Majorie J. Spruill's book about women's rights is very much of the moment. Like historian Rick Perlstein ("Nixonland," "The Invisible Bridge"), Spruill writes about the past in a way that illuminates and makes sense of the present, especially of the deep divisions between Left and Right. The bulk of her book takes place in the 70s with the rise of feminism and activists like Gloria Steinem and the subsequent conservative backlash, led by Phyllis Schlafly, who successfully merged religion and politics in a way that still impacts us. While I don't think Spruill can help but be sympathetic to the feminist position, she does try to be fair and balanced. Given how polarized our current climate it is, it is helpful, if depressing, to see how women's rights were, for a time, a bipartisan issue and that the ERA, which was defeated largely due to the efforts of Schlafly and her minions, had strong support. An important book for anyone interested in women's rights (which should be everyone), the historical roots of our split culture, and political history.


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