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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
House of Cards
The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
Dynamic Duo
Bruin Walk

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Spring 2005
Through Women's Eyes

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"Nothing captures the historic links between American and international feminism better than the story of International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in 1908 by American socialist women. The celebration was carried through the international socialist and communist movements until, in the 1960s, American women’s liberationists rediscovered it when they visited Cuba and Vietnam. In 1981, the U.S. Congress declared Women’s History Week (later Women’s History Month) as an official federal event. International Women’s Day is still celebrated around the world and connects far-flung women’s movements to each other."
From Through Women’s Eyes

In writing about the last third of the 20th century through the eyes of women, there is a strong tendency to write triumphantly. Paying attention to the differences and tensions — race and ethnicity, class, sexual preference — within the feminism of the late 1960s and 1970s helps to counter this inclination, as does exploration of later feminist writings of the 1980s and ’90s.

Finally, the changes and gains in women’s lives must be situated within larger economic shifts such as deregulation, deindustrialization and globalization, emphasizing the emergence of a distinctive “post-feminist” class gap between those working women with professional or corporate positions and those working women, increasingly immigrant, who take up the domestic and familial obligations of wealthier women.

When U.S. women’s history first emerged as a new, exciting field, scholars debated at what point it would no longer be necessary to study women separately from men. Now that the field has developed, we see that the more we learn, the more there is to learn, and that women’s history is not a finite field of scholarly possibilities that will one day be exhausted. But it is also true that as the discoveries of women’s history multiply, scholars should attend to the details of integrating our findings within the larger tale of U.S. history. Since women were always there, women’s history can be integrated into all historical subjects, from industrialization to globalization, from manifest destiny to the Cold War. As a scholar in this field, it has been a truly illuminating experience to revision U.S. history through women’s eyes.

Professor of History Ellen DuBois is co-author, with Lynn Dumenil of Occidental College, of Through Women’s Eyes: An American History With Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005).

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