Women That Make for Peace

Culture Watch

Women That Make for Peace
A history of organizing against militarism and sexism.
By Patrick G. Coy

The literature on social movements is blessed with good histories of the U.S. peace movement and with histories of a number of major U.S. peace movement organizations. Sadly, but all too predictably, nearly all of these histories have focused on the contributions of men and on male-dominated organizations and movements. Only in the past few years was this pattern breached. Now Harriet Hyman Alonso breaks it decisively with Peace As a Women’s Issue.

In this work the myriad of activities of U.S. feminist women whose organizations worked for peace between 1820 and 1992 are brought to life with vivid detail. This depth of detail is the fruit of good interviews and painstaking archival research. Alonso’s connecting theme in this often unwieldy topic is the relationship between institutionalized violence and violence against women. It provides a useful theoretical framework for parts of the study.

Alonso does not shy away from an honest examination of problems that historically afflict feminist women’s peace organizations, including the difficulty of attracting and empowering younger women and the largely failed efforts of groups like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Women Strike for Peace to reach out to women of color.

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Sojourners Magazine April 1994
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