One of the most moving evocations of the female dilemma can be found in Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams’s The Long Road of Woman’s Memory. In her study of the uprootings, dislocations, and cruelties attendant upon late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American life—the wave upon wave of desperate immigrants who crowded into this country’s tenements by the hundreds of thousands—Addams was led to reflect upon civilization itself. Her own life experience had convinced her that the past is always present in human cultures: In each of us, there is an ongoing echo of the entire historic movement of civilization. Addams rejected the moral dualism of a strict male-female divide: man as odious ravager, damaged goods; woman as graced with generosity, sympathy, and tenderness. It was far too simple.
more from Jean Bethke Elshtain at VQR here.