The Role Of Women During The Civil Rights Movement

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The Civil Rights Movement is typically only seen in terms of race relations in the United States of America. Steve Estes’, I Am a Man deals with these relationships between white and black men while introducing these concepts in terms of gender and masculinity. But one cannot have masculinity without femininity, which will be the focus of this paper. The role of women in the Civil Rights Movement is key to understanding masculinity. Women were used by both white and black men in order to prove their own masculinity and further their own agendas. In this period of time, white men are the ideal people who have the most power and privilege. They are the people who are leading companies, making decisions at the highest levels, and they have…show more content…
Women were victims, and the tough man needs to protect these fragile women from the ‘beasts’ that are black men. It is convenient that women need protecting, because they use this victimization to further their position on segregation. Their women being in the way of harm seems like a viable reason for whites and blacks to be separated, right? That was the goal for the white man. They even went further, saying “segregation alone would not afford white men the necessary power to protect white women from supposedly uncivilized black men” (64). They used the subordination of their women to vie for even more separation of the races. White women need even more than segregation to ensure their safety, and the white man makes sure this is emphasized to defend their desire to preserve it. Women’s victimization gave white men a reason to oppose black men, which shows that white women are essential to masculinity. The white man portrays a woman as needing protection because they are fragile and cannot defend themselves. The woman is a treasure for a man that must be safeguarded, and yet they use connotations of womanhood to denounce the masculinity of a man. Estes shows a picture on page 49 with the caption “This cartoon… portrays Arkansas news editor Harry Ashmore as a woman named ‘Pussyfoot,’ because Ashmore was not man enough to stand up for segregation” (49). Though men act as if their woman are their prize possessions that must be protected at all
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