This year is the 100th anniversary of the ratification Nineteenth Amendment, and Women’s Equality Day marks the anniversary of its certification.
This day offers an opportunity for reflection: how far have we come in terms of gender equality? It’s crucial to note, that while the Nineteenth Amendment gave some (mostly white) women the right to vote, many women of color and those excluded from citizenship were unable to vote for much longer.
Beyond voting, the fight for gender equality clearly persists today, especially when considering these intersecting inequalities related to race, class, citizenship, and sexual orientation. Below, we feature a selection of UC Press titles that spotlight these ongoing struggles in the U.S. and offer insights to move us forward.
Gender in the Twenty-First Century
The Stalled Revolution and the Road to Equality
edited by Shannon N. Davis, Sarah Winslow, and David J. Maume
How far have we really progressed toward gender equality in the United States? The answer is, “not far enough.” This engaging and accessible work, aimed at students studying gender and social inequality, provides new insight into the uneven and stalled nature of the gender revolution in the twenty-first century. Honing in on key institutions—the family, higher education, the workplace, religion, the military, and sports—key scholars in the field look at why gender inequality persists. All contributions are rooted in new and original research and introductory and concluding essays provide a broad overview for students and others new to the field. The volume also explores how to address current inequities through political action, research initiatives, social mobilization, and policy changes.
Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism
by Laurel Westbrook
Anti-violence movements rooted in identity politics are commonplace, including those to stop violence against people of color, women, and LGBT people. Unlivable Lives reveals the unintended consequences of this approach within the transgender rights movement in the United States. It illustrates how this form of activism obscures the causes of and lasting solutions to violence and exacerbates fear among members of the identity group, running counter to the goal of making lives more livable. Analyzing over a thousand documents produced by thirteen national organizations, Westbrook charts both a history of the movement and a path forward that relies less on identity-based tactics and more on intersectionality and coalition building.
Mothering While Black examines the complex lives of the African American middle class—in particular, black mothers and the strategies they use to raise their children to maintain class status while simultaneously defining and protecting their children’s “authentically black” identities. Sociologist Dawn Marie Dow shows how the frameworks typically used to research middle-class families focus on white mothers’ experiences, inadequately capturing the experiences of African American middle- and upper-middle-class mothers. These limitations become apparent when Dow considers how these mothers apply different parenting strategies for black boys and for black girls, and how they navigate different expectations about breadwinning and childrearing from the African American community. At the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, work, family, and culture, Mothering While Black sheds light on the exclusion of African American middle-class mothers from the dominant cultural experience of middle-class motherhood. In doing so, it reveals the painful truth of the decisions that black mothers must make to ensure the safety, well-being, and future prospects of their children.
How Married Couples Confront Unemployment
by Aliya Hamid Rao
In Crunch Time, Aliya Hamid Rao gets up close and personal with college-educated, unemployed men, women, and spouses to explain how comparable men and women have starkly different experiences of unemployment. Traditionally gendered understandings of work—that it’s a requirement for men and optional for women—loom large in this process, even for marriages that had been not organized in gender-traditional ways. These beliefs serve to make men’s unemployment an urgent problem, while women’s unemployment—cocooned within a narrative of staying at home—is almost a non-issue. Crunch Time reveals the minutiae of how gendered norms and behaviors are actively maintained by spouses at a time when they could be dismantled, and how gender is central to the ways couples react to and make sense of unemployment.
Opting Back In
What Really Happens When Mothers Go Back to Work
by Pamela Stone and Meg Lovejoy
In Opting Back In, Pamela Stone and Meg Lovejoy revisit women first interviewed a decade earlier in Stone’s book Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home to answer these questions. In frank and intimate accounts, women lay bare the dilemmas they face upon reentry. Most succeed but not by returning to their former high-paying, still family-inhospitable jobs. Instead, women strike out in new directions, finding personally gratifying but lower-paid jobs in the gig economy or predominantly female nonprofit sector. Opting Back In uncovers a paradox of privilege by which the very women best positioned to achieve leadership and close gender gaps use strategies to resume their careers that inadvertently reinforce gender inequality. The authors advocate gender equitable policies that will allow women—and all parents—to combine the intense demands of work and family life in the twenty-first century.
The Big Push exposes how patriarchal ideas and relationships continue to be modernized to this day. Through contemporary cases and reports, renowned political scientist Cynthia Enloe exposes the workings of everyday patriarchy—in how Syrian women civil society activists have been excluded from international peace negotiations; how sexual harassment became institutionally accepted within major news organizations; or in how the UN Secretary General’s post has remained a masculine domain. Enloe then lays out strategies and skills for challenging patriarchal attitudes and operations. Encouraging self-reflection, she guides us in the discomforting curiosity of reviewing our own personal complicity in sustaining patriarchy in order to withdraw our own support for it. Timely and globally conscious, The Big Push is a call for feminist self-reflection and strategic action with a belief that exposure complements resistance.
Success, School, and the Myth of Post-Feminism
by Shauna Pomerantz and Rebecca Raby
Girls are said to outperform boys in high school exams, university entrance and graduation rates, and professional certification. As a result, many in Western society assume that girls no longer need support. But in spite of the messages of post-feminism and neoliberal individualism that tell girls they can have it all, the reality is far more complicated. Smart Girls investigates how academically successful girls deal with stress, the “supergirl” drive for perfection, race and class issues, and the sexism that is still present in schools. Describing girls’ varied everyday experiences, including negotiations of traditional gender norms, Shauna Pomerantz and Rebecca Raby show how teachers, administrators, parents, and media commentators can help smart girls thrive while working toward straight As and a bright future.
The Mating Game
How Gender Still Shapes How We Date
by Ellen Lamont
Despite enormous changes in patterns of dating and courtship in twenty-first-century America, contemporary understandings of romance and intimacy remain firmly rooted in age-old assumptions of gender difference. These tenacious beliefs now vie with cultural messages of gender equality that stress independence, self-development, and egalitarian practices in public and private life. Through interviews with heterosexual and LGBTQ individuals, Ellen Lamont’s The Mating Game explores how people with diverse sexualities and gender identities date, form romantic relationships, and make decisions about future commitments as they negotiate uncertain terrain fraught with competing messages about gender, sexuality, and intimacy.
The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America
by David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe
Obstacle Course tells the story of abortion in America, capturing a disturbing reality of insurmountable barriers people face when trying to exercise their legal rights to medical services. Authors David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe lay bare the often arduous and unnecessarily burdensome process of terminating a pregnancy: the sabotaged decision-making, clinics in remote locations, insurance bans, harassing protesters, forced ultrasounds and dishonest medical information, arbitrary waiting periods, and unjustified procedure limitations.
Based on patients’ stories as well as interviews with abortion providers and allies from every state in the country, Obstacle Course reveals the unstoppable determination required of women in the pursuit of reproductive autonomy as well as the incredible commitment of abortion providers. Without the efforts of an unheralded army of medical professionals, clinic administrators, counselors, activists, and volunteers, what is a legal right would be meaningless for the almost one million people per year who get abortions. There is a better way—treating abortion like any other form of health care—but the United States is a long way from that ideal.