Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men through American History
In a sweeping synthesis of American history, Mary Ryan demonstrates how the meaning of male and female has evolved, changed, and varied over a span of 500 years and across major social and ethnic boundaries. She traces how, at select moments in history, perceptions of sex difference were translated into complex and mutable patterns for differentiating women and men. How those distinctions were drawn and redrawn affected the course of American history more generally.
Ryan recounts the construction of a modern gender regime that sharply divided male from female and created modes of exclusion and inequity. The divide between male and female blurred in the twentieth century, as women entered the public domain, massed in the labor force, and revolutionized private life. This transformation in gender history serves as a backdrop for seven chronological chapters, each of which presents a different problem in American history as a quandary of sex. Ryan's bold analysis raises the possibility that perhaps, if understood in their variety and mutability, the differences of sex might lose the sting of inequality.
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African American African American women Algonquian Ameri Anzia Yezierska apple pie became California called chap chapter Cherokee child citizens citizenship civil clan colonial color Corn Mothers culture daugh daughters division of labor economic England European fathers federal Feminine Mystique feminism feminist Florence Kelley Friedan gender history girls homosexual household Hull House husbands Ibid immigrants Indian inequality Jane Addams labor force ladies land lesbians lynching major male and female marriage married masculinity maternal men’s ment middle-class modern motherhood movement mysteries of sex Native American nineteenth century North patriarchal Pauli Murray percent plantation planters political postmodern public sphere race racial reform relations roles Ryan slave slavery social society South status tion took tribes twentieth century Union United Virgin of Guadalupe welfare Wells-Barnett white women wife wives Womanhood in America women’s liberation women’s public domain women’s rights workers World York