Research Critique: Disorderly Women

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. “Disorderly women: Gender and labor militancy in the Appalachian           South.” The Journal of American History (1986): 354-382.

The article “Disorderly women: Gender and labor militancy in the Appalachian      South” by Jacquelyn Hall examines protests by women in their push for their grievances. The author presents women as being disorderly due to what she terms as fights. In claiming that women are disorderly, the author uses several reasons to infer this conclusion. Women are protesting against the low wages, high-handed attitudes and petty rules.[1] They refuse to work and gather at the factory gates. However, the women are ready for negotiations to solve their grievance. Referring women as being disorderly appears to victimize and encourage their abuse.

The author starts by stating that women are disorderly. However, the author does not state the relationship between the strike and the protest.[2] Therefore, the author fails to explain why women could have opted to strike rather than negotiate since they are ready for such mediation process. As highlighted earlier, women were striking in to push for their grievances, and are granted the same rights as men in working environments. The author does not mention the grievances of the women at the beginning of the article. The failure to mention women’s grievances appears to create a stereotype to the reader that women are, in fact, disorderly as per the author’s hypothesis making it valid.[3]

The author has also failed in ensuring gender sensitivity. The author depicts women as the only ones facing problems in their working. However, this could have been correct concerning the article’s hypothesis. The issue of gender insensitivity is exhibited due to the problems stated in the article that men face. Issues regarding women have hence been over-emphasized while those of men have been under-emphasized.[4] Presenting the ideas as has been done by the author makes it appear that women had more challenges facing them as compared to men, which is not correct. The men found themselves in the same circumstances as the women. However, culture made men undertake duties different from women. Over-emphasis on the issues relating to women comes in when the author compares what the society granted the men in comparison to what women were denied. The author, therefore, fails to become objective since more weight is placed on the issues of women.

The author has also failed in creating connections in the text. Some parts of the article do not correlated with the author’s hypothesis. For instance, there is no correlation between the new class of bankers and lawyers and the protests of the women. The issue of the protests adds to the hypothesis of the article. However, there is no connection between the bankers and the lawyers and the hypothesis, or else the author fails to create a coherent correlation.[5] Therefore, these sections should be analyzed as per the author’s hypothesis or else they should be omitted. The protective legislations at the time were considered weak.[6] The reasons that made weak so that the women found the conditions under which they worked in unbearable were not explained to us. There is need to expound details regarding this subject matter on so that the reasons for the women’s grievances come out clearly.

Certain areas in the article have errors of fact or representation. The purpose for the creation of trade unions is to fight for the rights of workers who are members. The author also suggests that trade unionism had neglected the women. [7] This suggestion is an assumption and is ambiguous since the purpose of any trade union would be to fight for the rights of its members. Women were not excluded from becoming members of the trade unions. Another error of fact was the belief that southern women were hard to organize. However, southern women are like the rest. The failure of organizing them is due to the lack of implementing relevant systems as in other regions. Such systems would enable management of the southern women.

The author has, however, been able to bring out issues of concern in regard to working environment. The author has been able to correlate his hypothesis with the issues of sexuality.[8] Unemployed women were resorting to prostitution, especially young girls. Measuring of respectability was in terms of chastity and the difference in appearance and language.[9] Strikes provided unaccustomed opportunities for courtship for the young women.[10] The author has also been able to draw out the rise of activism from the hypothesis. The protests by women necessitated the need to fight for better treatment in the working environment. Such activism would be crucial for eliminating vices such as imprisonment due to failure to bow managements. [11]

This article is essential in examining the various challenges women faced. However, the depiction of women as being disorderly when they protest against ill treatments by their management is prejudicial. For instance, workers have been shown to be imprisoned for failing to bow to management. In such cases, protests could have been effective for use by the women in the push for justice. Moreover, women are shown to be willing to negotiate on their terms. Therefore, considering women as disorderly is ambiguous and uncouth.










Hall, Jacquelyn Dorvd. “Labor Militancy in the Appalachian South.” Unequal Sisters: A    Multicultural Reader in US Women’s History (1990): 298.

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. “Disorderly women: Gender and labor militancy in the Appalachian          South.” The Journal of American History (1986): 354-382.

Huber, Patrick. “” Battle Songs of the Southern Class Struggle”: Songs of the Gastonia Textile     Strike of 1929.” Southern Cultures 4, no. 2 (1998): 109-122.

[1] Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Disorderly women in the Appalachian (The Journal of American History, 1986), 354.

[2] Jacquelyn Dorvd Hall, Labor Militancy in the Appalachian (Unequal Sisters: A               Multicultural Reader in US Women’s History, 1990), 298.

[3] Jacquelyn, 354.

[4] Jacquelyn, 364.

[5] Jacquelyn, 359.

[6] Jacquelyn, 367.

[7] Jacquelyn, 355.

[8] Jacquelyn, 374.

[9] Patrick Huber, Battle Songs of the Southern (Southern Cultures, 1998), 110.

[10] Jacquelyn, 378.

[11] Jacquelyn, 380.

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