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review 2018-01-04 04:56
new perspectives on Women's rights
Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites who Fought for Women's Right to Vote - Johanna Neuman

n her 240 pages long book the Gilded suffragist, Johanna Neumann tries to bring light to the American upper-crust women who fought for women's right the foremost of course the right to vote. To distinguish themselves from the British suffragettes they chose to be called suffragists as they were determined to choose other methods. These women used their own means to move the cause forward like easy access to important people, use their own publicity to introduce the topic to a wider audience and use their money in many ways to support women's rights. The time spans from 1907 till 1947 and the book describes many of these upper class women contributed to the cause. It brings a wealth of details not sparing the infighting or rivalry among various branches of women rights clubs or parties and how often the women lacked solidarity. the book is an interesting read for all who want to get an insight into the women rights movement and at the same time how society functioned at that time and at that higher class level. What is not so perfect is that the chapters at times lack cohesiveness and the book seems not well organized. It is also distracting that the author finds it necessary to describe in details the costs of table settings, room decoration and of clothes of these upper-class women. Nevertheless, it is a good read for the wealth of information and brings the other side of suffragists who are rarely if ever mentioned.

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text 2017-08-25 14:23
Reading progress update: I've read 71 out of 240 pages.
Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites who Fought for Women's Right to Vote - Johanna Neuman

I am not liking this book. In one sense it's well written; Neuman does a good job of evoking New York/Newport society during the Gilded Age, and her descriptions of people are engaging. Yet it's surprisingly unfocused; she tells three different stories of how elite women inaugurated their participation in the suffrage movement, and the fact that she does so out of order and with no linkage between them suggests a degree of incoherence. Worse, there's no real analysis; she's not showing how they "fought for the vote" besides hosting a lot of well-publicized meetings. Their links to the broader suffrage movement are under-addressed. and there's no explanation of their strategy beyond a description of the ladies' expertise in garnering media attention. Was their strategy to use their social stature to make suffrage appear more acceptable? Were they hoping that the very association of their august names with suffrage would win over recalcitrant anti-suffragists? Neuman doesn't really bother to delve beneath the glamorous surface here, which is frustrating.

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