Patterns of Feminism
What unifies feminists across their history in the U.S.? Is it merely their ties to feminism and its values… or is it something more? Spanning three centuries, Sarah Grimke, Melissa Hield, and Gloria Anzaldua are united through their responses to external social pressures to behave in a prescribed way. Moreover, to behave in a “ladylike” manner or “traditional” way that the historically misogynistic culture of the U.S. has bred. As an inhabitant of the 19th century, Grimke was expected to adhere to the social standards of the time, which required for women to be meek and confined to the domestic sphere. Yet, Grimke, as one of the first American feminists—lecturing others on her “bold” ideas of how abolition and gender equality go hand in hand. In a similar vein, Hield sought out the world of academia and challenged the male-dominated institution. The 70s typically expected women to continue to adhere to domesticity, but instead Hield set her sights on receiving a Ph.D.—something very untypical for a woman within this period. Anzaldua similarly responded to these external patriarchal pressures by questioning the concept of white feminism. Latina women such as Anzaldua were simply not treated the same in a white-majority movement, inducing Anzaldua to fight for her place. All three of these women were exerting their feminist identities in male-dominated spheres. They are all pioneers of their times and reveal that feminism possesses “patterns” that unify women together in more than just beliefs.
In honor of feminism, we chose a pale yellow as the color theme for this exhibit. This sunflower-esque color serves as a reminder of early suffragettes who actively fought to change the male-dominated landscape they lived in. The sunflower pin at the top right of our page actually belonged to Alice Paul, a prominent feminist who happened to join the National Woman’s Party.
After digging around in the archives in search of material over religious communities, Laurie ultimately found a piece of Grimke’s. This eventually led her to Anzaldua, whose works revolved around the very Catholic atmosphere of Latinx culture. On the other hand, I was in search for early feminist works and came across a book covering feminists within Hull House. Turns out this book was written by Melissa Hield, and I ended up requesting her box—finding myself enthralled by her personal journals and story. I hope you find this exhibit just as enthralling.
Caroline Coleman, Laurie Grobe, Melissa Hield