The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

WaPo writer calls for “New Deal Feminism” today

In Economics on December 12, 2009 at 10:23 am

Dorothy Sue Cobble, a professor of history and labor studies at Rutgers and author of The Other Women’s Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America and The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, has written an interesting piece for tomorrow’s Washington Post, “It’s time for New Deal feminism.”

In it, Cobble asks women’s rights advocates to

concentrate on the economy and the workplace — and on the huge transformations that are needed there to get greater equality and security. These are issues that can unite women across class and culture and allow feminism to speak to the fears and concerns of everyone.

She compares this focus to the attention paid to abortion rights, and states

The next women’s movement should look a lot more like the one in the 1930s than the one in the late 1960s.

Citing women leaders such as Esther Peterson, Addie Wyatt, Caroline Dawson Davis, and of course, Frances Perkins, Cobble says this:

They wanted neither the dole nor make-work. Rather, they wanted more good jobs. Good jobs meant, first and foremost, higher pay. What better way to prime the economic pump than to put money in the pockets of workers, who after all are consumers? Female workers in particular needed a raise. They too supported families, they too provided essential services, even if the results were more intangible than in traditional men’s work: a child who could read, a sick patient comforted…

You can read her thought-provoking piece and then participate in an online discussion with her on Monday at 11:00 am.

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