chapter  13
Changing Agendas: The Impact of Feminism on American Politics
Pages 34

Historically, this was true. Working through new or existing voluntary associations, women adopted an array of political issues, crafted compelling narratives that legitimized female authority in the policy debate, and mobilized legions of people to secure legislative and social reforms.3 These organizations often were based on rituals of female solidarity and brought together women across class and ideological lines under the banner of “civic housekeeping,” the notion that women had a unique ability to take care of the community.4 Even as they lacked core political rights, women were able to leverage their social capital-their “social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them ”5-toward inherently po - litical ends. Working through multitiered organizational networks and framing their political engagement as a logical extension of their private province, women claimed ownership of issues such as tem - perance and abolition in the nineteenth century; educational, correctional, and charity reform at the turn of the twentieth century; and wom an suffrage and mothers’ pensions in the early decades of the twentieth century. For much of the nation’s history, women owned social reform-or at least a good portion of it.