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Parent categories: new - woman
Related: flapper girl - feminism - fin de siecle - Gibson girl
The New Woman was a feminist ideal which emerged in the final decades of the 19th century in Europe and North America as a reaction to the role, as characterized by the so-called Cult of Domesticity, ascribed to women in the Victorian era. Advocates of the New Woman ideal were found among novelists, playwrights, journalists, pamphleteers, political thinkers and suffragettes. Men who favoured the new cause gathered, for example, in the Fabian Society. The supporters' common aim was to encourage women to liberate themselves from male domination, manage their own lives, and leave behind anything that might restrict their pursuit of happiness and their self-realization. Heavily opposed by conservatives, the New Woman movement started to fade away in the course of the First World War when, due to a shortage of "manpower", many women took on jobs and when, shortly after the war, universal suffrage was achieved.
Certain characteristics were seen as pertinent to the new ideal. By general consent, a "New Woman" was supposed
- to have received an adequate education (primary, secondary and preferably also tertiary) and to be able to use her knowledge wisely;
- to earn her own money and thus be financially independent;
- to participate in political discussion and decision-making processes;
- to decide herself if, when and whom she wants to marry and how many children she wants to have;
- to show outward signs of being different by wearing more comfortable clothes;
- and, generally, to defy convention and social norms in order to create a better world for all.
Not all proponents of the New Woman went equally far in their demands. For example, while it was generally acknowledged that the Victorian moral code and in particular double standards of morality must be abandoned, the concept of free love was by no means universally advocated.
In fiction, H. G. Wells's Ann Veronica (1909) ("this poisonous book", according to The Spectator) is one of the classic New Woman novels, whereas Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did (1895) was a controversial contribution. In drama, Henry Arthur Jones's play The Case of Rebellious Susan (1894) deserves mentioning in this context. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Woman [Nov 2004]
Ann Veronica (1909) - H. G. Wells
Ann Veronica (1909) - H. G. Wells [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Ann Veronica is a novel by H.G. Wells first published in 1909. The book deals with contemporary political issues of the time, concentrating specifically on feminist issues. In the course of the action the heroine matures from an innocent and na´ve girl to a representative of the New Woman.
Ann Veronica created a sensation when published, due both to the feminist sensibilities of the heroine, and to the similarity of her name to that of Amber Reeve, a woman with whom Wells was rumored to be having an affair. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann Veronica [Feb 2006]
See also: feminism - New Woman - 1909 - H. G. Wells
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