Recent feminist scholarship concerning the United States in the 1920s challenges earlier interpretations that assessed the 1920s in terms of the unkept “promises” of the women’s suffrage movement. This new scholarship disputes the long-held view that because a women’s voting bloc did not materialize after women gained the right to vote in 1920, suffrage failed to produce long-term political gains for women. These feminist scholars also challenge the old view that pronounced suffrage a failure for not delivering on the promise that the women’s vote would bring about moral, corruption-free governance. Asked whether women’s suffrage was a failure, these scholars cite the words of turn-of-the-century social reformer Jane Addams, “Why don’t you ask if suffrage in general is failing?”
In some ways, however, these scholars still present the 1920s as a period of decline. After suffrage, they argue, the feminist movement lost its cohesiveness, and gender consciousness waned. After the mid-1920s, few successes could be claimed by feminist reformers: little could be seen in the way of legislative victories.
During this decade, however, there was intense activism aimed at achieving increased autonomy for women, broadening the spheres within which they lived their daily lives. Women’s organizations worked to establish opportunities for women: they strove to secure for women the full entitlements of citizenship, including the right to hold office and the right to serve on juries.
It can be inferred from the passage that recent scholars cite the words of Jane Addams primarily in order to
suggest that women’s achievement of suffrage brought about changes in government that were not taken into account by early interpretations
point out contradictions inherent in the goals of the women’s suffrage movement
show why a women’s voting bloc was not formed when women won the right to vote
emphasize the place of social reform movements in the struggle for suffrage for women
suggest that the old view of women’s suffrage was inappropriate