Flanagan Explores Women and the City
Maureen A. Flanagan, chair of the Department of Humanities has written an essay, "The City, Still the Hope of Democracy? From Jane Addams and Mary Parker Follett to the Arab Spring," that has been published in the January 2013 issue of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.
In this work, Flanagan poses the question of whether the city can ever be a true site of democracy if women do not possess free, equal, and safe access to a city's public spaces. The essay compares the writings, proposals, and actions of men and women in the Anglo–Atlantic world early in the 20th century to reveal the distinct gendered ideas behind various reform movements directed at improving the urban built environment. She uses theoretical frameworks provided by feminist historians and social scientists to demonstrate that from the Progressive Era to events of the contemporary Arab Spring, the city has not been a place of democratic equality for women. Fear of women's public presence, of the disorder of women, has motivated men to construct cities to reinforce their desires to embound women in the private domestic space and to punish women for transgressing the boundary between the public and the private.
Read the full article as it appears in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. The essay is an expanded version of the presidential address Flanagan presented to the Society for Historians of the Gilded and Progressive Era in April 2012.
The image above shows the arrest of a striking garment worker in 1910. Flanagan asks, "Did it really take six (men) to 'subdue' her or was something more deeply sexist at work here?" Chicago Daily News photo, courtesy Chicago History Museum.