NOW Statement of Purpose

Three major points:

– This organization, made up of both men and women, want to create a society that holds women in the same regards as men. They want to bring women into “mainstream America” and allow them to have the same privileges and responsibilities that men enjoy. This will all be done in order to ensure that women are able to have truly equal partnership with men.

– This group’s logic is being uncovered as technology “has reduced most of the productive chores that women once performed.” Therefore, women are not needed as much in the home and can expand their responsibilities to the workplace. They are now able to use their intelligence and ingenuity to help out the workforce instead of it being “wasted” in daily household chores.

– This group wants women to take a stand for themselves on a much more basic level. They want them to reject the long-standing idea that women are inferior to men while demanding representation in political, business and other influential circles.


Why haven’t women brought these point up before? They could’ve fought for more rights in the earlier half of the century – they didn’t have to wait some forty odd years to make a stand for themselves on this front.

What is the most important step for women in this document? Is it their “necessary” involvement in politics? More prevalence in the business community? Their want to be educated just as much as men are?


At this point there was no defined civil rights organization for women. During this period there were many civil rights groups popping up for minorities and smaller delegations, but there hadn’t been one specifically for women. Shocking.

Women in the Victorian Era

Author: Elizabeth Poole Sanford. A British female author whose works revolved around women’s gender roles in the social and domestic spheres in 1842.

 Context: Sanford’s wrote during the Victorian era. In British History, the Victorian era is marked by the reign and death of Queen Victoria from 1832 until 1901. This period was marked by cultural shifts from romanticism to rationalism as well as societal peace and economic prosperity; Sanford herself thought romantic notions of love and passion were in decline.

Language: The language is elementary. Sanford uses neither specialized jargon to weed out the less refined and educated members of society, nor language so simple as to hinder efficient writing.

Audience: Middle-class women. Primarily, married women who must nurture their man through the outlet of domestic comforts. Aristocratic women most likely have servants for domestic maintenance and their own elite social norms and mannerisms, while lower class women are most likely have differing, more industrial priorities.

Intent: Sanford’s intent is to teach the women of the middle class how to properly behave in the domestic and social spheres in order to support their husbands and to help them realize their role and position in accordance to their male counterparts in society.

Message: Romanticism is dying, and women now have a more practical role in society as a functioning domestic member rather than an object of love or passion. In order to obtain less romantic, but more sincere love a women must nurture her man by maintaining his and their domestic environment; to put as much of their domestic labor on her shoulders as her sincerely willing, dependent inferior. That remains her proper role in society as well as in the relationship.


In Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Vindication of the Rights of Women, she postulates that women are seen as being “under men” as they have been viewed as less important since the dawn of time. While I understand what she is saying and completely agree that women need to have more rights (especially in this day and age), women in general have let this “discrimination” happen to them over the course of history. What we think of as the classic housewife was what a woman strived to be for the majority of human history – a baby factory that would take care of the kids, clean the house and prepare the meals. It was only until the Age of Enlightenment where women became outspoken about their position in the social sector, and it wasn’t until much later (early 1900’s) where they began to make some serious progress in terms of being able to vote and garnering basic rights. This is obviously a topic that needs time to transform into a stronger entity before it can really push for more equality, but we are already starting to see some of the effects. There are more women CEO’s and managers of American business, and women salaries are as high as they have ever been. This is a process that will continue to evolve throughout time, but we can say without a doubt that the women of the world are finally getting recognized as “true members” of society (which is funny, because they outnumber the men).

The Widow’s Prize

This reading focused on how the Mongol Invasion greatly influenced Rus’ politics and culture. As a result of this influence, The First Treaty of Novgorod was created. This treaty created more communication between the princes of the various provinces. This created a stronger alliance between the provinces; however the treaty seemed to be directed more to the citizens then the government. This is evident based on the new laws that were created by the treaty. Another significant part of the reading was Dmitrii Donskoi’s last will and testament. What was truly significant about this will was the recognition he gave to his wife. She was given a significant amount of power for a woman of that era. She was in charge of distributing the land between the sons. The rest of the will described what son would get what bit of land, and even included any future sons.

This was a very interesting reading, what made so remarkable was the last will and testament of Dmitrii, was his devout understanding of God. “And if, because of my sins, God takes away one of my sons…(Reinterpreting Russian History, pg 89)”. The strength of his faith and the fact that he would blame himself rather than God for the potential death of a son gives Dmitrii a much more martyred appearance. It is even more interesting to note that his wife gained distributing control of his property and possessions. Women during the Middle Ages, especially in Western Europe, had very little privileges and had a lot of social restrictions. Dmitrii seemed to think far more into the future than most ‘civilized’ Western Europeans at the time; he even had written in his will that his children should obey their mother.

I have two major questions on this reading. 1) How did the Orthodox Church feel about this Last Will and Testament? And 2) Was this the way most widows were treated, and if not was this simply because she was a part of the nobility?

Law and Women in Early Rus Society

The two law codes we have read for the people of Rus are very different. They show changing attitudes to governance, punishment, and women. The First law code we read, the Pravada Russkaia, mostly describes crimes that pretty much everyone would have a problem with. They are things like theft, violence, and destruction of property. The mechanism for enforcement is the wronged party. The second set of laws we have read, Iaroslav’s Statute, Are much broader. Instead of before when crimes such as rape where left out, probably because everyone knew what to do about it, they are included. There are lots of new laws about women, their actions, and actions against them. There is also the inclusion of laws with religious reasons. Punishments no longer go just to the wronged party, but they may now also have to be paid to the Metropolitan or the Church. Some crimes even require people to go to covenants. The laws protected people especially women from things such as being kicked out of their house, or raped, but also restricted rights we would see as very important today.

In early Rus the Orthodox Church had a heavy hand in people’s views of women. The Church had a way of viewing women that we might refer to as the “Madonna/Whore complex.” Women where either good or evil based on a set of guidelines we today would most likely not think of. However that does not mean that women where without power in the society. There was evidence of them doing everything from being mayors of towns to brewing their own beer. While this might have set them occasionally at odds with the Church they where still able to enjoy greater freedoms. The Church’s opinion of women was widespread it often did not reflect the actual position of women, who often had prominence than they where given credit for. I wonder how comparable the situation of women was in Rus to other places around the world at the same time.

Observations on Rus Society

Having looked at the Правда Русская (Pravda Russkaia) and compared it to Iaroslav’s Statute I think that the change in the documents can tell us a lot about life in early Rus as well as the different roles that men and women played in their society. In my opinion the biggest change between the two legal codes is the shift in importance from material possessions to family as well as sexual values. In the Pravda Russkaia most of the laws are jumbled around with little regard for organization, however the central theme seems to be property and its value; however, in Iaroslav’s statute we can see Christian values starting to emerge as there are many laws pertaining to marriage and adultery in particular. These include rules about when and how people can get divorced as well as several clauses that talk about incest or sexual relations with other non Christians, actions which were both condemned.

Another aspect of this document that I think is important to look at is the role of women in Rus society. Generally when looking through history I expect to find women having very little power as compared to men. However, in Iaroslav’s Statue I saw several things that led me to believe that women held some power in early Rus. One law in particular that comes to mind is…

“if a girl does not wish to marry,[and] then the father and mother give her [in marriage] by force, and if the girl causes [harm] to herself, than the father and mother are guilty before the Metropolitan, and they are to pay the losses. Likewise with a young man [who does not wish to marry].”

Not only does this law seem to protect women from marriages they may not want, it also does something that I think is equally important. In the end of the clause it says that this practice is the same with both males and females who do not wish to marry. This leads me to believe that the people of Rus may have valued female contribution more than other societies of the time.

Lastly I also noticed that there was nothing in this legal code regarding homosexuality. I found it interesting that nothing was said, as this seems to be a very consistent topic in so dubbed “Christian nations”. The absence of this subject leads me to wonder whether or not this issue was important in Rus society or if it was a social taboo that was intentionally not included.

Working Women in Russia

The women’s double burden of simultaneously juggling their working life with their domestic lives has not improved much since 1936 in Russia. Up until the late 1970s, women practically had twice the workload as men. In the 1930s, the Soviet state basically falsely advertised women’s emancipation by massively increasing women’s participation in the workforce while undermining their facade by cutting wages in half and reversing the importance of the states role in child raising and placed it on the Russian family.

In the United States in the 1950’s, you see a more complete split in the working and domestic spheres with gender roles. The stereotypical nuclear family, such as ones that can be recognized on the popular television show “Mad Men”, would have a man in the workforce, with the women taking care of the domestic chores and child raising. In modern American society, where women have a much larger share of high paying jobs than they did roughly 70 years ago, there are more male figures which are involving themselves more heavily in the domestic environment, where the women make most of the income.

One things which fascinated me about women’s jobs in Soviet Russia throughout the 20th century is that they consistently dominated teaching and education. How revered were teachers in the Soviet Union compared to the United States? What about in compared to a culture which places a higher emphasis in education? Such as China or Korea?

Gender Roles in Goodbye to BerlinThere

In Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, the characters reflect the gender roles of Nazi Germany by exemplifying the ideal male and female roles in German society. To start, Sally is allowed to focus on meeting a man as her “full-time job” while Chris is expected to go out and work, secure sustainable employment and at some point marry one of these women like Sally. These young adults, while having fun amongst themselves, are expected to form the relationships that will allow the state to succeed by the couples producing offspring. This population growth is encouraged by parents supporting their children through the use of monthly stipends; the children however use this money not for its intended purpose but rather for meeting friends and having a good time.

There is a noticeable lack of older males in the text. A lot of the Fraus are single and working to take care of these groups of young adults. They act as a level between the state and the young adults, guiding their development with much more freedom than home life all while providing a motherly environment. They cook, clean and run daily house life for these single men and women, allowing them the ability to go out and search for a spouse, or in Sally’s case a “rich old man, where she won’t have to worry”.

Women in Nazi Germany

In The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood tells the story of Sally Bowles, a beautiful young woman who aspired to become an actress. Isherwood’s relationship with Bowles was first and foremost paternal, though near the end of the story his feelings for her grow stronger. Despite his romantic feelings for her, it is clear from the start that she is concerned with finding a man who will be able to support her lavish lifestyle.  Based on Isherwood’s descriptions of women in “Sally Bowles,” the majority of them are considered to be dependent, immature and incapable of making their own decisions.  Misogyny was a mindset that was prevalent throughout Nazi Germany, as Hitler emphasized that women’s main concern should be motherhood.

In Nazi Germany, women were highly encouraged to take the traditional route, and focus on giving back to the state through childbirth and motherhood rather than working for a living. The gender roles at this time were incredibly rigid, and this is clear in The Berlin Stories through both Sally’s behavior, and the misogynist comments of men. For example, in the letter that Klaus wrote Sally, he said, “My dear little girl, you have adored me too much. If we should continue to be together, you would soon have no will and no mind of your own…You must be brave, Sally, my poor darling child” (Isherwood, 41).  In this scene, and throughout the book, Sally is perceived as a helpless child, and belittled by the majority of men that she meets. Isherwood’s short novel about Sally Bowles further emphasizes the misogyny that was prevalent in Nazi Germany.

Was Isherwood’s paternal relationship with Sally condescending? Or did she truly need his guidance to prevent her from making poor decisions?

Women in Italian Society

When attempting to create a new political party, and from that party, a successful party government, the ideology cannot be too extreme, relative to the beliefs and the ideas of the populace. For example, the degree of Nazi anti-Semitic polices seems extreme to outsiders, but general German distrust and distain for Jews allowed the Nazis to implement these policies. In his novel, Bread and Wine, Ignazio Silone depicts the role of women in Italian society, clarifying how and why extremely masculine movements developed in early 20th century Italy.

In “The Futurist Manifesto,” in 1909, FT Marinetti states that the movement seeks to glorify war, militarism, patriotism, destruction, and contempt for women. This attitude towards women is seen again in Fascist policies that attempted to keep women in traditional roles. Mussolini himself declares in “What is Fascism” that war is the ultimate test of a nation. War excludes women, for the most part, therefore, women are not nearly as important to the nation as men. In Bread and Wine, the main character, Don Paolo, says to a prospective nun, “ ‘You would have the other possibility that life offers most women…You could become a good wife and mother of a family’ ”(Silone 101). Women had two choices in life: the Church or a family. These were the places for women in society. And if a woman were to stray from these honorable paths, like Bianchina, and, for example, become pregnant out of wedlock, she dishonors herself and her family. This social view is reflected in Italian laws that forbid abortions.

In Fascist Italy, the role of women was clear and traditional. Don Paolo even feels that he must “get away from the tedious female atmosphere by which he was surrounded”(Silone 112). This expresses men’s distain toward women, as well as the fear of appearing too feminine, and possibly homosexual, like Gabriele in Ettore Scola’s A Special Day.

How and why did masculine movements developed in early 20th century Italy? Was it the fear of the rising status of women or the fear of the loss of masculinity? Was it both? Was it neither? Why?