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Delaney Demaret Blog Post for 9/21

I find that the most important thing to take away from Zinn’s chapter, as well as the poetry, is the tendency of women to lead regardless of their oppressed nature in society. In early American society, it is clear that despite history’s overlooking, women still posed as leaders in capacities that transcended the laws and institutions that barred them from being public officials. We know that leaders don’t need an official title to be an impactful member of society. Anne Hutchinson, for example, led many to a kind of spiritual reckoning that begged for a deeper analysis of Puritanism and its restrictiveness. Her presence in Massachusetts court directly challenged the nature of gender roles in the world she lived in, and her subsequent move to Rhode Island made a certain statement that undoubtedly caused a shift in Puritan thinking. Lucy Stone’s involvement in the anti-slavery movement and her writings on the matter had enough influence in academia that she needed not carry an official public title. The women discussed in Zinn’s chapter are a testament to the fluidity of leadership in the public sphere: it does not necessarily respond to title, and in the case of women in history, it more likely responds to societal influence.

There are, however, multiple caveats to which women led, and why. Literacy and class hierarchies seem to carry a weight that was relatively unavoidable, in a way that men didn’t always have to let their downfalls stop them from becoming influential. Literacy determined any woman’s accessibility to becoming a leader, and class standing dictated how far their leadership extended into society. It is no surprise that those women who came from affluent backgrounds had a relatively easier time reaching a larger scope of people. Female leadership has always existed, no doubt, but I think that it would be an effective exercise to closely examine how societal barriers (not including legal, that is self-explanatory) kept more women out of leadership positions than men. Moreover, the concept of intersectionality on a broader historical scale might point to more answers about how and why women led.

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2 Comments

  1. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    In terms of the idea of women often being leaders in society, it is quite interesting how while certain people were often held in high regard in terms of leadership by the upper class, white, and male section of society, the most influential and important leaders often came from sections of society where everything was done to prevent them from being leaders. This can be seen through figures who took the difficult path to leadership such as Sojourner Truth and Angelina Grimke who’s lower positons in societal power, shaped them into incredible leaders.

  2. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    Women definitely do possess a disposition to lead no matter the restriction in their way. This is proven by the labor strikes in the early 19th century; however, the racial and socioeconomic disparities in what women lead provides urgency for why we must study and understand intersectionality. I think the effects of not understanding intersectionality can be seen in the feminist movements of the late 20th century which alienated some women of color who felt isolated by the majority white, wealthy leadership. Understanding how different people experience prejudice can help us advocate for all.

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