A Troubling History of Women’s Rights in America
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Analysis of the issues, strategies, and tactics behind the battles that have been fought—and continue to be fought—over the rights of women in the US.

Feminist, journalist, and civil-rights attorney Rowland brings all three facets of her background to bear in this impressively documented account of the political, cultural, and legal struggles over the status and rights of American women from colonial days to the present. Her extensive research (footnotes occupy about one-quarter of the pages) turned up such a wealth of interesting material that she frequently interrupts her text with lengthy sidebars to include pertinent but auxiliary data: e.g., summaries of the contradictory laws in the 50 states regarding minor females and of the extent of AIDS/HIV around the world. The author begins with an examination of the obligations and restrictions imposed on colonial women, then moves on to the battle over birth control, the rights of women in the workplace, and the rights of reproductive privacy. She scrutinizes the impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on issues involving gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and employment inequity. She also looks at the legal and social implications of advances in reproductive technology and takes a critical look at the issue of violence against women. Throughout, Rowland focuses on court cases and the impact of their outcomes. Deeply concerned by the tactics of those who are resistant to changes in public policy regarding the status of women, she cites President Bush and conservative Christian activists for attempting to undermine or undo the progress women made in the latter decades of the 20th century. “Some men will fight forever to limit the reproductive choices of women,” Rowland warns, asserting that women are losing ground, and that the trend will continue unless feminist activists adopt a new, more aggressive game plan.

Indispensable source book for courses in women’s studies, especially valuable for its coverage of a multitude of court cases.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-57248-368-7
Page count: 752pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2004