Monday, April 17, 2017, 6 pm

Marjorie J. Spruill

School of Science & Math Room 129, 202 Calhoun Street


The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values

That Polarized American Politics


At the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, TX, delegates from across the United States—led by Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and other prominent feminist leaders—gathered to set forth a National Plan of Action, endorsing such hot-button issues as abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gay rights. Meanwhile, across town, Phyllis Schlafly, Lottie Beth Hobbs, and other leading conservative women held a massive rally to protest this federally-funded feminism and to launch the pro-family movement in response.

We cannot fully understand current American politics and social policies without appreciating the events that divided American women in the 1970s and the subsequent polarization of American politics at large. Through the lens of this polarization, Marjorie Spruill traces women’s issues in politics up through the 2016 presidential election, examining how the debate over women’s rights and family values altered national politics, and offering unique, valuable insight on our current political landscape.

DIVIDED WE STAND is a crucial and timely analysis of a forty-year-old rift between liberals and conservatives in America, the legacy of which is highly evident in today’s politics and social policies.

In DIVIDED WE STAND: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics historian Marjorie J. Spruill reveals how the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers in the 1970s divided the nation as Democrats continued to support the modern women’s movement and Republicans recast themselves, in opposition to feminism, as the party of “family values.”

Though there was great bipartisan support for women’s rights in the early 1970s, the federally-mandated state conferences preceding the 1977 National Women’s Conference—prompted by the United Nation’s International Women’s Year—faced a surge of resistance from conservative women who challenged feminists for control of the conferences and the plan of action that would be sent to Congress. Their challenge quickly escalated to formidable levels thanks to grassroots organizing and unprecedented cooperation between religious groups, from Mormons to evangelical Protestants, to Catholics—the precursor to the Religious Right.

Marjorie J. Spruill teaches courses in women’s history, Southern history, and recent American history at the University of South Carolina. She is the author of New Women of The New South and the editor or co-editor of several anthologies, including One Woman, One Vote and The South in the History of the Nation

Book sales and signing after the talk.

Read more about the history that impacted Marjorie Spruill’s new book in the USA Today article, What do men get that women don’t?  Here are a few things  by Alia E. Dastagir.  Reviews of book in the New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review.





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