What Are the California Standards for Teaching the Feminist Movement?

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    The Feminist Movement in Eighth Grade

    • California Standard 8.6.6 states that students will "examine the women's suffrage movement (e.g., biographies, writings, and speeches of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Fuller, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony)." This standard is part of a chronological sequence covering the period between approximately 1800 and 1900. Students in eighth grade take a close look at the early feminist movement. In this era the movement largely focused on the issue of suffrage or voting rights for all adult women. Although feminists were active in the decades before and after the Civil War, the major goal of gaining voting rights was not accomplished during this time span. It was not until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the early part of the 20th century that women in all states could vote. Therefore, students in eighth grade learn about the struggle but not the eventual success of the suffrage movement, which will be covered in the eleventh grade.

    Key Concepts for Eighth Grade

    • History teachers in California must cover the beginnings of the feminist movement with their eighth grade students. Lucretia Mott was an early abolitionist and Quaker minister who preached sermons on women's rights issues. Elizabeth Cady Stanton used many of Mott's ideas in her speech to the Seneca Falls Convention. This was the first women's rights convention in U.S. history which historians consider the beginning of the American feminist movement. In 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, which promoted a constitutional amendment that would permit women across the entire nation to vote. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony, along with other women, cast ballots in the presidential election. As they did not live in states that permitted women to vote, this action was illegal. The women were arrested, tried and convicted. Anthony's punishment was a fine of $100, which she refused to pay. The judge, fearing that the suffrage movement might benefit from a martyred leader, let Anthony go.

    The Feminist Movement in Eleventh Grade

    • California Standard 11.10.7 states that students will "Analyze the women's rights movement from the era of Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the movement launched in the 1960s, including differing perspectives on the roles of women." This standard is part of a larger unit spanning of United States history as students examine the evolution of voting and civil rights for many groups in American society. Because the standard reaches back to the era of Stanton and Anthony, students in eleventh grade begin by reviewing the methods and goals of the women's rights movement. They then proceed to study the feminist movement through the end of the 20th century. This means examining in detail the background and passage of the 19th Amendment as well as the contributions of women to the home front during both world wars. Students in eleventh grade also study the modern women's movement.

    Key Concepts for Eleventh Grade

    • Eleventh grade history teachers in California begin by discussing voting rights in the United States. The earliest state to grant voting rights to women was Wyoming in 1869. States in the west were more likely to grant such rights than those back east since western states were actively trying to encourage women to settle there. Congress approved the 19th Amendment in 1919; by 1920, all women had the right to vote, not in small part due to their contributions to the home front during World War I. Women made an even larger contribution to the war effort during World War II. After the war ended, women raised a generation of children to believe that a woman could do anything a man could. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a law that outlawed gender-based salary schedules. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed hiring discrimination based on gender. Betty Friedan, author of "The Feminine Mystique," founded the National Organization of Women in 1966, which advocated greater educational and workplace opportunities for women. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in the early 1970s, which failed ratification by a narrow margin. The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade removed states' rights to regulate abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.

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