Why History Matters

Why History Matters life choices reflected their specific situation within a power structure--how they accommodated to their constraints, worked around those constraints, or resisted them directly. She was a master interpreter of the interrelatedness of various forms of domination. Today many academic feminists call this understanding "intersectionality." This is really a multisyllabic new label for an old understanding, and it was Gerda's default. Her 1969 article "The Lady and the Mill Girl" examined class differences among women in the Jacksonian United States, and she impressed on students the impossibility of generalizing about "women" or assuming some universal female sisterhood. Those of us who experienced the force of Gerda's personality, and her success in overcoming opposition, should not forget that she too suffered the slights and insults directed at ambitious women. Nor should we imagine that they didn't hurt. As I learned in writing about another complicated woman, Dorothea Lange, ambition was perhaps the least acceptable attribute in a woman of her generation. Former Radcliffe president Matina Horner, whose name is attached to my fellowship here at the Radcliffe Institute, provided the social science that showed how women were taught to fear and suppress ambition. Not the least of Gerda's messages to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies University of Nebraska Press

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Frontiers Editorial Collective.
ISSN
1536-0334
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

life choices reflected their specific situation within a power structure--how they accommodated to their constraints, worked around those constraints, or resisted them directly. She was a master interpreter of the interrelatedness of various forms of domination. Today many academic feminists call this understanding "intersectionality." This is really a multisyllabic new label for an old understanding, and it was Gerda's default. Her 1969 article "The Lady and the Mill Girl" examined class differences among women in the Jacksonian United States, and she impressed on students the impossibility of generalizing about "women" or assuming some universal female sisterhood. Those of us who experienced the force of Gerda's personality, and her success in overcoming opposition, should not forget that she too suffered the slights and insults directed at ambitious women. Nor should we imagine that they didn't hurt. As I learned in writing about another complicated woman, Dorothea Lange, ambition was perhaps the least acceptable attribute in a woman of her generation. Former Radcliffe president Matina Horner, whose name is attached to my fellowship here at the Radcliffe Institute, provided the social science that showed how women were taught to fear and suppress ambition. Not the least of Gerda's messages to

Journal

Frontiers: A Journal of Women StudiesUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Mar 15, 2015

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