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  • she the people

A 200+ Year History of U.S. Women's Struggle for Equality

A 200+ Year History of U.S. Women's Struggle for Equality

March 4 author reading and discussion of She the People: A Graphic History

It was ironic, or perhaps, fitting, to attend a reading of She the People: A Graphic History of Uprisings, Breakdowns, Setbacks, Revolts, and Enduring Hope on the Unfinished Road to Women’s Equality at the Cambridge Public Library on the day after the front runner female democratic candidate, and sister Cantabrigian, lost big in the primaries. The event was hosted by the Cambridge Women’s Commission in celebration of Women’s History Month 2020.

Author Jen Deaderick, a Cambridge resident, has written about gender and citizenship for the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Experience, and Dame. She is also a regular contributor on WGBH’s news show, Greater Boston. Since 2008, she has run the largest Equal Rights Amendment page on Facebook.

She the People is divided into twelve chapters; starting in 1776 and ending in the present, each packed with an amazing amount of historical information about both well-known and lesser known sheroes in the struggle for women’s equality, written in a witty and digestible style. Illustrations by Rita Saplinor help to bring the stories to life.

The book grew out of the work Deaderick and her co-admin of the Facebook ERAnow page, Sarah-Jane Stratford, have been learning about and sharing on women’s long struggle for equality. Both authors, they talked about writing longer posts or articles, and eventually, the idea became a book.

According to Deaderick, “We realized that, just to talk about the ERA, we had to go back to the 1920’s, when the amendment was first introduced. But if we started in the twenties, we needed to go back to the work of the suffrage movement, but if we started in the mid-nineteenth century, we needed to go still farther back to provide the context of women speaking out for equality before during and after the American Revolution in 1776.”

The book is incredibly comprehensive, covering almost 250 years, and includes the following chapters:
1. Remember the Ladies: 1778-1864
2. Male Citizens: 1865-1919
3. Let’s Misbehave: 1920-1939
4. We Can Do It!: 1940-1949
5. Tomorrow-Land: 1950-1959
6. You Don’t Own Me: 1960-1964
7. Women in Revolt: 1965-1970
8. Hear us Roar: 1971-1973
9. Malaise: 1974-1979
10. Men Don’t Protect You Anymore: 1980-1991
11. Cookies: 1992-2008
12. This is What a Feminist Looks Like: 2009 to Now

You can purchase She the People at Porter Square Books.