Emma Goldman: Her Views on Women

Koval, Arlene
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Despite the recent interest in the women's movement, Emma Goldman is a neglected early twentieth century feminist - an advocate of the equality of the sexes. Emma lends an interesting intellectual and traditional perspective to the women's issue. As an anarchist, Emma's ideas on women reflect anarchist principles. She was an activist, an intellectual, a journalist and a subject of controversy. Yet, there is no scholarly study of Emma's views on women. Richard Drinnon in his biography of Emma Goldman, Rebel in Paradise, largely ignores Emma's ideas on women and her analysis of women in American society. Although Emma was limited by some of the traditional notions of her time, her ideas are illuminating in today's context. Emma, the feminist, also acted as a commentator on the feminist movement of her time. At the turn of the century, America was plagued by problems stemming from industrialization, urbanization and immigration. In response to these problems, a broad range of reforms were proposed by "progressives". Progressives advocated reforms to benefit the small businessman, the consumer and the farmer. They favored anti-trust laws to break up monopolies. To achieve these laws they wanted more democratization, to return the power to the "people”. The "people" were the native born middle class Americans. The rising women's suffrage movement won many supporters from the Progressives.
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