Class Roots of Feminism

  • Karen Sacks
Keywords: Sex, Political Economy, Inequality


During the nineteenth century (say from 1820 to 1920) the women's movement in the United States was not a single movement, but rather three movements which were consciously movements for the rights of women. There was an industrial working-class women's movement for economic improvement and equality which began with the earliest factories in the United States, the New England textile mills of the 1830s. Second, there was a black women's movement made up of working- and middle-class black women against racism and for both economic improvement and legal equality with whites. This also had its roots in the 1830s, in the black convention movements. And finally, there was the white middle-class movement for legal equality which had its beginnings in women's attempts to become full legal members of their class, also in the 1830s.