previous sub-section
next sub-section

Chapter One The "New Woman" Revised

1. See Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, "Bourgeois Discourse and the Progressive Era," in Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 176-178. [BACK]

2. John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), chapter 8; and Smith-Rosenberg, "Bourgeois Discourse and the Progressive Era," pp. 176-178. [BACK]

3. Both D'Emilio and Freedman, pp. 194-196; and Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986), have shaped this chapter's discussion of working-class women, leisure, and sexuality. For other, more general, discussions, see Elizabeth Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985); and John Kasson, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978). [BACK]

4. Kathy Peiss, in Cheap Amusements , pp. 174-178, points out the existence of competing cultural styles and values among working-class women. In contrast to their pleasure-seeking sisters, many immigrant women pursued a middle-class ideal of respectability and found the elevating forms of leisure in neighborhood clubs fully satisfying. Still others organized themselves around the ideals of labor and helped to improve their own working conditions. [BACK]

5. Nancy Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), pp. 3-10, 33-38. Among the most active feminists were the lawyer and cultural radical Crystal Eastman; the industrial investigator Frances Perkins, who became well known as Franklin Roosevelt's secretary of labor; the anthropologist Elsie Clews Parsons; the writers Rhetta Childe Dorr and Inez Haynes Gillmore; and the socialist trade unionist Rose Pastor Stokes. They were joined by other women journalists and educators and by sympathetic men

like The Masses editors Floyd Dell and Max Eastman (brother of Crystal and husband of Ida Rauh) and the columnist Will Irwin. [BACK]

6. Katherine S. Anthony, Feminism in Germany and Scandinavia (New York: Henry Holt, 1915), p. 6, as quoted in Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 49. [BACK]

7. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 39. [BACK]

8. This paragraph summarizes Cott's analysis, pp. 41-47. For a discussion of the birth-control movement in the context of feminism in the teens, see Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America (New York: Penguin Books, 1977; reprint 1986), pp. 186-245. For a more detailed discussion of feminism in Greenwich Village, see Ellen Kay Trimberger, "Feminism, Men, and Modern Love: Greenwich Village, 1900-1925," in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality , ed. Ann Snitow, Christine Stan-sell, and Sharon Tompson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983), pp. 131-152. [BACK]

9. Cott, in chapter 1 of The Grounding of Modern Feminism , makes this brief coherence a major accomplishment of feminism in the teens. [BACK]

10. Homer Fort is quoted in Fairfax Downey, Portrait of an Era As Drawn by C. D. Gibson (New York: Scribner, 1936), p. 196. Other information on Gibson and the Gibson girl can be found in Lois W. Banner, American Beauty (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 154-174; Robert Koch, "Gibson Girl Revisited," Art in America 1 (1965), pp. 70-73; Henry C. Pitz, "Charles Dana Gibson: Creator of a Mode," American Artist 20 (December 1956), pp. 50-55. [BACK]

11. In Imaging American Women: Ideas and Ideals in Cultural History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), Martha Banta considers the effect of types on both daily conduct (the tendency of the Gibson girl to condition fashion and behavior among women) and larger cultural ideals—like a sense of nationhood. For Banta, Gibson was the most effective turn-of-the-century illustrator at imaging a wide range of cultural desires (pp. 15, 211-218). [BACK]

12. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics , as quoted in Banner, American Beauty , p. 156. [BACK]

13. Caroline Ticknor, "The Steel-Engraving Lady and the Gibson Girl," Atlantic Monthly 88 (July 1901), p. 106. [BACK]

14. Ticknor, p. 107. [BACK]

15. Ticknor, pp. 107-108. [BACK]

16. Banner, American Beauty , p. 156. [BACK]

17. Banner, American Beauty , pp. 156-157; Downey, Portrait of an Era , pp. 264-265; and Pamela Neal Warford, "The Social Origins of Female Iconography: Selected Images of Women in American Popular Culture, 1890-1945," Ph.D. diss., Washington University, St. Louis, 1979. [BACK]

18. Koch, "Gibson Girl Revisited," pp. 71-72. [BACK]

19. Downey, Portrait of an Era , p. 186. [BACK]

20. This account of the portrait's origin, from L N. Phelps Stokes, Random Recollections of a Happy Life (New York: 1932), pp. 115-118, is recounted in Stanley Olson, John Singer Sargent: His Portrait (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986), p. 206. [BACK]

21. Carter Ratcliff, John Singer Sargent (New York: Abbeville Press, 1982), p. 168. [BACK]

22. Ratcliff, p. 167. [BACK]

23. Olson, John Singer Sargent: His Portrait , p. 206. [BACK]

24. See Trevor J. Fairbrother, The Bostonians: Painters of an Elegant Age, 1870-1930 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1986), pp. 40-92. [BACK]

25. Bernice Kramer Leader, "Antifeminism in the Paintings of the Boston School," Arts

Magazine 56 (January 1982), 112-119; see also Leader's dissertation, "The Boston Lady as a Work of Art: Paintings by the Boston School at the Turn of the Century," Columbia University, 1980. [BACK]

26. Leader, "Antifeminism," pp. 117-118. Leader cites Philip Hale's portrayals of his artist wife, Lilian Westcott Hale, who achieved greater financial and professional success as an artist than her husband. Though Philip encouraged her professional life, he was active in the anti-suffrage campaign. When she served as his model, she was "romantically beautiful, face relaxed and dreaming," never painting at her easel. [BACK]

27. Quotation from the Philadelphia Times coverage of a symposium of prominent women's anti-suffrage views, as quoted in Leader, "Antifeminism," p. 116. [BACK]

28. The inaugural exhibition American Women Artists, 1830 to 1930, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts provided an occasion for seeing both self-portraits and portraits of women artists by their peers. Information on the artists comes from the catalog, Eleanor Tufts, American Women Artists, 1830-1930 (Washington, D.C.: International Exhibitions Foundation for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1987). [BACK]

29. American Women Artists, 1830-1930 , cat. no. 19; Fairbrother, The Bostonians , p. 220; and Martha J. Hoppin, Marie Danforth Page: Back Bay Portraitist (Springfield, Mass.: George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, 1979). Danforth began her studies at age seventeen with Helen Knowlton (who collaborated with William Morris Hunt) and then moved to the Museum of Fine Arts School, where, thanks to the sponsorship of Edward Everett Hale, she studied with Benson and Tarbell between 1890 and 1895. Because she needed to care for her ailing mother, she had to refuse the school's travel prize awarded to her in 1894. Following her marriage to Page in 1896, she received her first commissions for copies of famous portraits and worked as an illustrator and a poster artist. By 1902 she had held her first one-woman exhibition of fifteen portraits at Walter Kimbell and Company. The following year she finally took her European tour and spent a portion of the time in Spain copying works by Velázquez. In the teens and twenties, she received prizes at national and international exhibitions, earned substantial fees as a portraitist (her paintings of children were especially popular), and was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1927. [BACK]

30. See Fairbrother, The Bostonians , p. 67. The Pages had no children until Marie adopted two young girls in 1919, when she was fifty. Hoppin, Marie Danforth Page , p. 11. [BACK]

31. Fairbrother, The Bostonians , p. 67. [BACK]

32. Little is known about Margaret Foster Richardson. She came to Boston for art training from Winnetka, Illinois, studying first at the Normal Art School in Boston and then with Tarbell. Primarily a portraitist, she received the Harris Bronze Medal at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1911 and the Maynard Portrait Prize in 1913 at the National Academy of Design. Tufts, American Women Artists, 1830-1930 , cat. no. 16. [BACK]

33. William Dean Howells, Criticism and Fiction (1891; reprint, New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), p. 128. The discussion of Howells, Caffin, and Santayana and the genteel tradition is indebted to Patricia Hills's discussion in "John Sloan's Images of Working-Class Women: A Case Study of the Roles and Interrelationships of Politics, Personality, and Patrons in the Development of Sloan's Art, 1905-1916," Prospects 5 (1980), pp. 172-174. [BACK]

34. Charles Caffin, The Story of American Painting (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1907), pp.340-344. For a discussion of late nineteenth-century notions of the decorative in relation to images of women and prevailing notions of femininity, see Bailey Van Hook, "Decorative Images of American Women: The Aristocratic Aesthetic of the Late Nineteenth Century," Smithsonian Studies in American Art 4 (Winter 1990), pp. 45-70. [BACK]

35. George Santayana, "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy," in Winds of

Doctrine: Studies in Contemporary Opinion (New York: Scribner, 1926), p. 188. Presented as an address in 1911; published in 1913. [BACK]

36. Kenneth Russell Chamberlain, interviewed by Richard A. Fitzgerald (unpublished transcript in the library of the University of California, Riverside), p. 28, as quoted in Rebecca Zurier, Art for the Masses: A Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911-1917 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988), p. 140. [BACK]

37. Leslie Fishbein, introduction to Art for the Masses , pp. 14-15; and Suzanne L. Kinser, "Prostitutes in the Art of John Sloan," Prospects 9 (1984), p. 234. [BACK]

38. Bennard B. Perlman, The Immortal Eight: American Painting from Eakins to the Armory Show, 1870-1913 (Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light, 1979), p. 89. [BACK]

39. Milton W. Brown, American Painting from the Armory Show to the Depression (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955; reprint, 1972), pp. 9-17. See also Robert Hay-wood, "George Bellows's Stag at Sharkey's : Boxing, Violence, and Male Identity," Smith-sonian Studies in American Art 2 (Spring 1988), pp. 3-15; and Rebecca Zurier, "Real Men, Real Life, Real Art: Gendering Realism at the Turn of the Century," paper delivered at the American Studies Association annual meeting, Baltimore, Md., November 1, 1991. [BACK]

40. T. J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981), pp. 107-108. [BACK]

41. Helen Farr Sloan notes, as quoted in Zurier, Art for the Masses , p. 56. [BACK]

42. Only five of Sloan's paintings from his early period show women working. In four women are cleaning, and in a fifth they are planting. In these works, women's work is "necessary ritual cleansing and renewal, with purification and regeneration the essential content." Hills, "John Sloan's Images," p. 175. [BACK]

43. D'Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters , pp. 200-201. In summarizing the shifting foundations of turn-of-the-century sexual norms, the authors cite both commercialized leisure and the existence of lifelong intimate relationships among college-educated new women. [BACK]

44. At the time he executed this work, Sloan was changing his previously somber palette to the higher-key tonalities of the Maratta color system. His declaration that "lavender light was on my mind" refers to the dominant tones of the painting and reflects his formal preoccupation. David W. Scott and Edgar John Bullard, III, John Sloan, 1871-1951 , exhibition catalog (Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art, 1971), p. 124. [BACK]

45. Kinser, "Prostitutes in the Art of John Sloan," p. 238. [BACK]

46. Though Kinser does not discuss this painting, my analysis of it as a possible narrative of prostitution is based on her discussion of The Haymarket (1907), Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street (1907), Chinese Restaurant (1909), and 3 A.M . (1909). [BACK]

47. Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie: An Authoritative Text, Background and Sources, Criticism , ed. Donald Pizer (New York: Norton, 1970), p. 1. Kinser points out this connection between Sloan and Dreiser. [BACK]

48. Peiss, Cheap Amusements , pp. 62-67. [BACK]

49. Peiss, pp. 108-113. [BACK]

50. I want to re-emphasize here Peiss's claim (see n. 3) that not all working-class women sought the same forms of leisure. Many continued to follow parental desires for traditional patterns of courtship. Others went to women's clubs managed by middle-class reformers that offered more intellectual opportunities. Many of these women felt a need to understand American social habits as a means to assimilation and class mobility. [BACK]

51. Although there is no specific evidence of a response by female working-class viewers of Sloan's work, I am drawing on the evidence of their responses to various institutions of

commercialized pleasure. In proposing a different viewer and in suggesting that the painting's narrative strategies made possible a variety of subject positions, I draw on Laura Mulvey's and Rosemary Betterton's theoretical work on female spectatorship along with the notion expressed by Stanley Fish that we read a text within a specific "interpretive community." Here the theoretical female spectator is positioned within a community of working women. Rosemary Betterton, "How Do Women Look? The Female Nude in the Work of Suzanne Valadon," in Looking On: Images of Femininity in the Visual Arts and Media , ed. Rosemary Betterton (London and New York: Pandora Press, 1987), p. 218; Stanley Fish, Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980); Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," in Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation , ed. Brian Wallis (New York and Boston: New Museum of Contemporary Art in association with Godine, 1984), pp. 361-373. [BACK]

52. Peiss, Cheap Amusements , pp. 185-188. This double edge is a central theme in Peiss's argument. [BACK]

53. For a summary of the way that early moviemakers both used and undermined the ideals of new womanhood, see Peiss, pp. 153-158. [BACK]

54. Leila J. Rupp, "Feminism and the Sexual Revolution in the Early Twentieth Century: The Case of Doris Stevens," Feminist Studies 15 (1989), pp. 289-309, points out this variety within the new woman typology. For a discussion of the early emergence of the flapper, see James R. McGovern, "The American Woman's Pre-World War I Freedom in Manners and Morals," Journal of American History 55 (September 1968), pp. 315-333. [BACK]

55. Susanne Wilcox, "The Unrest of Modern Woman," Independent 67 (July 8, 1909), pp. 62-63. [BACK]

56. Louise Connoly, "The New Woman," Harper's Weekly 57 (June 7, 1913), p. 6. [BACK]

57. Norman Hapgood, "What Women Are After," Harper's Weekly 58 (August 16, 1913), p. 29. [BACK]

58. Bram Dijkstra, Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. vi. See also Alessandra Comini, "Posters from the War against Women," review of Dijkstra in the New York Times Book Review , February 1, 1987, pp. 13-14. [BACK]

59. Sloan's images were untitled in the Collier's article "Women March," by Mary Alden Hopkins (May 18, 1912), pp. 13 and 31. See Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth Hawkes, John Sloan, Spectator of Life (Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1988), pp. 101-102. [BACK]

60. Carrie Chapman Catt, "Why Women Want to Vote," The Woman's Journal (January 9, 1915), p. 11, as quoted in Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 30. [BACK]

61. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 30. [BACK]

62. Estelle B. Freedman, "The New Woman: Changing Views of Women in the 1920s," Journal of American History 61 (September 1974), p. 387. Freedman notes, for example, that male historians writing in the early 1930s, like Preston William Slosson and Frederick Lewis Allen, claimed that women were liberated but based their assessments on women's roles in the family, the home, and the fashion and entertainment industries. See Preston William Slosson, The Great Crusade and After: 1914-1928 (New York, 1930), pp. 130-161; and Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties , First Perennial Library edition (New York: Harper and Row, 1931; reprint, 1964). By contrast, Inez Haynes Irwin focused on organized women's activities and their political life in Angels and Amazons: A Hundred Years of American Women (Garden City, N.Y., 1933); see also Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, Women in the Twentieth Century: A Study of the Political, Social, and Economic Activities (New York, 1933). [BACK]

63. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , pp. 9-10, 20. [BACK]

64. Editor's statement, "The New Woman," Current History 27 (October 1927), p. 1. [BACK]

65. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 272. [BACK]

66. Harriet Abbott, "What the Newest New Woman Is," Ladies Home Journal , August 1920, p. 154. [BACK]

67. Freedman in "The New Woman," p. 374, points out that between 1927 and 1933 there was a sudden proliferation of literature on the new woman, unequaled until the historical reassessment that began in the early 1960s. For an evaluation of these two stances toward feminism, see Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , p. 271. [BACK]

68. Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, "Feminist—New Style," Harper's Monthly Magazine 155 (October 1927), p. 554. [BACK]

69. Bromley, p. 557. [BACK]

70. Lillian Symes, "Still a Man's Game: Reflections of a Slightly Tired Feminist," Harper's Monthly Magazine 158 (May 1929), p. 678. [BACK]

71. Symes, pp. 678-679. [BACK]

72. Lillian Symes, "The New Masculinism," Harper's Monthly Magazine 161 (June 1930), pp. 98-107. [BACK]

73. Symes, "Still a Man's Game," p. 678. [BACK]

74. Henry R. Carey, "This Two-Headed Monster—the Family," Harper's Monthly Magazine 156 (January 1928), p. 171; Symes, "The New Masculinism," pp. 98-107. Carey's piece was also a direct refutation of what he perceived as the rampant selfishness of the economically independent woman in Bromley's "Feminist—New Style." His "Virist—New Style'' also claimed independence from his job so he could become women's equal in "the art of recreation." [BACK]

75. Symes, "The New Masculinism," pp. 105-107. [BACK]

76. Lois Banner, Women in Modern America: A Brief History (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), p. 142. Rayna Rapp and Ellen Ross, "The Twenties' Backlash: Compulsory Heterosexuality, the Consumer Family, and the Waning of Feminism," in Class, Race, and Sex: The Dynamics of Control , ed. Amy Swerdlow and Hanna Lessinger (New York: Barnard College Women's Center; Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983), pp. 102-103. [BACK]

77. Elizabeth Onativia, "Give Us Our Privileges," Scribner's 87 (June 1930), p. 597. [BACK]

78. Banner, Women in Modern America , p. 142. [BACK]

79. Benjamin R. Andrews, "The Home Woman as Buyer and Controller of Consumption," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 163 (May 1929), p. 41. [BACK]

80. Lois Scharf, To Work and to Wed: Female Employment, Feminism, and the Great Depression , Contributions to Women's Studies no. 15 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983), pp. 5-12. [BACK]

81. Before the franchise, the largest women's reform groups saw labor legislation as a device to win over women to the suffrage movement. Among groups supporting legislation were the Women's Trade Union League, the League of Women Voters, and the Women's Bureau. Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 205-210. [BACK]

82. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , pp. 120-129; Rosalind Rosenberg, Beyond Separate Spheres: Intellectual Roots of Modern Feminism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), xiii. [BACK]

83. Kessler-Harris, Out to Work , p. 206. [BACK]

84. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism , pp. 73-74, 124-129; Rapp and Ross, "The Twenties' Backlash," p. 93. [BACK]

previous sub-section
next sub-section