The beginning of the fight for women’s suffrage in the United States, which predates entry into Congress by nearly 70 years, grew out of a larger women’s rights movement. That reform effort evolved during the 19th century, initially emphasizing a broad spectrum of goals before focusing solely on securing the franchise for women. Women’s suffrage leaders, moreover, often disagreed about the tactics and whether to prioritize federal or state reforms. Ultimately, the suffrage movement provided political training for some of the early women pioneers in Congress, but its internal divisions foreshadowed the persistent disagreements among women in Congress and among women’s rights activists after the passage of the 19th Amendment.
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By the end of the century women had begun to organize themselves and gradually they took up a number of causes such as education, the conditions of women's work and so on.
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It was in the early part of the 20th century that women's organizations were set up, and many of the women who were active in these later became involved in the freedom movement.
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With the utmost respect for Broner, whom I found refreshing and radical, I think that this approach is at the center of contemporary feminism's biggest challenge. We are intergenerationally fractured, right down to the most foundational of questions:
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Now these women are older, many of them happily shifting into what Jane Fonda calls "the third act" -- a stage of life when they don't give a shit what anyone else thinks, and they want to see the world live up to its God damn potential, once and for all. They start dying their hair funky shades of red. They urge their husband to get a hobby as they head out for another expletive- and laughter-filled lunch with their friends -- other women who are funding feminist causes, editing feminist publications, and leading local feminist efforts. In some ways, it's a return to their earnest youth -- a time less fraught with the compromises that come with juggling families and careers. They're prioritizing changing the world again. And as such, they seem to experience an old hankering for an unapologetic women's movement that they can see, hear, and touch.
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In the late 20th century, Canadian and international scholars developed the terms intersectionality and standpoint to understand such diversity. Activists have variously prioritized identities rooted in , , sexuality, age and , as well as sex and gender. In other words, women are always more than their gender and sex. Other collectivities also give their lives meaning and shape their . Yet, for all their diverse movements, women in Canada have often believed they shared special qualities that needed representation in public life.
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I don't blame them. All of their stories -- about marching in the streets, about taking over offices, about riding around the country in vans, falling in love – not only sounds like they had a whole lot of fun, but also managed to make some profound political changes. But I also recognize that it is a time that has passed. Not only is the women's movement -- as it was known in the 1960s -- over, but women my age don't even agree on what a "woman" really is.