Women's Rights in the late 1900s

By: Shelby Godwin

Question

How did women taking the men's role in playing baseball during World War II spark the beginning of women's equality in the late 1900s?

Thesis

As the men went off to war, the major league baseball was threatened to be shut down. Women then had to step up and take the roles of these mens job and proving to all people they could preform in "men's" tasks as they could resulting in society giving women more equality.

Background Information

Around 1942, the major league was threatened to be shut down due to the war and young men being drafted to fight for their country. This is when the idea of women being brought in to play so these franchises do not lose to much revenue that was needed to support our troops and the war. In order for fans to continue to come to thies games since their quality players were not their playing, women were made to wear skirts and look "attractive." This is also when the game of softball came to be popular which later evolved more.

"Dottie" Kamenshek

Dorothy, also known as Dottie, was the talented first baseman who was considered the best player in the league during her time. This made the journalist focus the most on her not only because of her athleticism but her struggle she faced as a woman playing in a mans sport. Like Dottie the other women also faced the same issues. They were expected to not only play baseball but carry out their roles of being a woman. Women like Dottie were assumed to be "glamour girls" but then later on proved themselves as serious ball players. "Kamenshek broke new ground for women in athletics at a time when fragility was held up as a valued feminine trait; she thrived in a male-dominated sport and was loved for it" wrote Vignola from The New York Times, "Dottie made a mockery of the postwar American feminine stereotype. They looked like Rita Hayworth and played like Ted Williams.”

Discrimination of Women

The main focus on the managers recruiting women to play in the major leagues was that they had a sense of "femininity." To ensure this, the women were made to wear skirts at all times even when playing and attend charm school at night. Pepper Paire, a former player, said “We had to wear high heels, all dressed up, and carry a book on top of our heads and say, ‘Bounce the ball.’ This was in the evenings at spring training, after 10 grueling hours on the ball field.” The reason for these actions for feminism throughout the women was to attract more of a crowd and make emphasis on the gender switch. Some women were turned down to play in the league even if they played better than any of the women out there. Some that had few masculine traits they stuck out there and made them wear red lipstick.

Upcoming of Women's Equality

The crowds first begin to come to the games played by women for laughs and to see the women show off their feminism and legs, but they kept coming back to see the women that surprised them of actually preforming well in their baseball games. The women performing how they did gave an impression to the fans that women can preform masculine tasks just as much as they can.

The song that is included "this used to be my playground" is about something wonderful that comes to an end. This is a reminder that women are on a steady not slow trajectory towards equality with men. This movie shows equality that is unfairly distributed to white traditionally attractive women unlike some who tried out for the teams. Dottie was one of those players. This also brings up the problem of racism also.  One scene from this movie that was included during practice game a spectator throws ball back in with a strong arm happened to be from an African American women. With this scene it shows the "small steps" women have taken toward equality only aided to privileged white women.

Bottom line

A league of their own was not produced to be just another love story or baseball movie but a movie to show the fight the women in these times had against sexism and the "ideal" look of a woman. The movie shows how woman were the supposedly minority at this time. With the men going off to the war the women had no choice but to step up and take over the jobs so the economy wouldn't crash. This was a huge step for women's equality rights.

Bibliography

Williams, Amy. "Real-Life “League of Their Own:” Remembering Dottie." Ms Magazine Blog. N.p., 2010. Web. 01 June 2014.

Grace. "A League of Their Own by Grace + 4 Comments." A League of Their Own. N.p., 17 June 2009. Web. 31 July 2014.

"A League Of Their Own - HeyUGuys." HeyUGuys. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2014.

Kesler, Jennifer. "The Hathor Legacy." The Hathor Legacy. N.p., 26 Sept. 2008.    Web. 01 June 2014.