In the wake of the Nineteenth Amendment, Republican women set out
to forge a place for themselves within the Grand Old Party. As
Catherine Rymph explains, their often conflicting efforts over the
subsequent decades would leave a mark on both conservative politics
and American feminism.
Part of an emerging body of work on women's participation in
partisan politics, Republican Women
explores the dilemmas
confronting progressive, conservative, and moderate Republican
women as they sought to achieve a voice for themselves within the
GOP. Rymph first examines women's grassroots organizing for the
party in the decades following the initiation of women's suffrage.
She then traces Marion Martin's efforts from 1938 to 1946 to shape
the National Federation of Women's Republican Clubs, the party's
increasing dependence on the work of women at the grassroots in the
postwar years, and the eventual mobilization of many of these women
behind Barry Goldwater, in defiance of party leaders.
From the flux of the party's post-Goldwater years emerged two
groups of women on a collision course: a group of party insiders
calling themselves feminists challenged supporters of independent
Republican Phyllis Schlafly's growing movement opposing the Equal
Rights Amendment. Their battles over the meanings of gender, power,
and Republicanism continued earlier struggles even as they helped
shape the party's fundamental transformation in the Reagan