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Dolls and Drudges Don Pants: Gail Collins Discusses Her New Book

By       Message Martha Rosenberg       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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Q: Your new book, When Everything Changed (Little, Brown) covers the cascade of rights women won between 1964 and 1972 from equal pay and the right to their own credit rating to the right to wear pants and to be called by the honorific "MS." Why was this second women's rights movement necessary fifty years after women won the right to vote?

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Gail Collins: While the suffragists succeeded in getting the Nineteenth Amendment ratified in 1920, they also believed that women's role should be at home as mothers and wives. Without the economic power of participating in the workplace and positions of influence in society, women's status after getting the vote could really not change much.

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Q: Here in Chicago, suffragist Frances Willard is remembered for becoming the first Dean of Women of the Women's College at Northwestern University in 1886. Yet her feminism and temperance stances sometimes put her on the wrong side of abolitionism.

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Gail Collins: Certainly when women's right to vote was not forthcoming after the Fourteenth Amendment some feminists were embittered. My book recounts the story of the women's rights parade in Washington in 1913 in which the feminist leader Alice Paul, not wanting to alienate Southern sympathizers, ordered black suffragists to march at the back of the parade. Ida Wells-Barnett, the Chicago suffragist, waited on the side of the parade and when the white Illinois delegation passed by, joined and integrated it.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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