Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter by Doreen Mattingly

By Doreen Mattingly

A feminist, an outspoken activist, a lady with out a university schooling, Midge Costanza used to be one of many unlikeliest of White condo insiders. but in 1977 she grew to become the 1st girl Assistant to the President for Public Liaison lower than Jimmy Carter, rising as a well-liked point of interest of the yankee tradition wars. Tasked with bringing the perspectives of detailed curiosity teams to the president, Costanza championed revolutionary motives while americans grew more and more divided at the very matters for which she fought.

In A Feminist within the White House, Doreen Mattingly attracts on Costanza's own papers to make clear the lifetime of this interesting and debatable lady. Mattingly chronicles Costanza's dramatic upward push and fall as a public determine, from her preliminary reputation to her final clashes with Carter and his aides. whereas Costanza challenged Carter to help abortion rights, homosexual and lesbian rights, and feminist rules, Carter confronted elevated strain to assuage the pursuits of rising non secular correct, which at once adversarial Costanza's beliefs. eventually, marginalized either in the White condo and through her fellow feminists, Costanza was once careworn to surrender in 1978.

Through the lens of Constanza's tale, readers trap a distinct standpoint of the increase of debates that have outlined the feminist stream and sexual politics to this very day. Mattingly additionally finds a much wider, yet heretofore ignored, narrative of the advanced period of gender politics within the past due 1970's Washington - a historical past which maintains to resonate in politics today. A Feminist within the White House is a must-read for an individual with an curiosity in sexual politics, lady politicians, and presidential history.

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Extra info for Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America’s Culture Wars

Sample text

Between the special attention given to her fragile sister and the privileges of her brother, Midge was left with the most work and the least attention. She was the only one helping her mother with the Saturday morning housework, and often took care of her sister and did ironing and special tasks for her brother. The drafts of her memoir emphasize her independence and rebellion, with tales such as her successful sit-down strike in the kitchen demanding to attend first grade in public—not parochial—school.

44 As Costanza knew, a candidate who had other options would never hire a woman. “We were hired as secretaries, but never as campaign managers. We were in a catch-22. Even if a candidate appreciated a woman’s talents and wanted to hire her, he’d have to say to himself, ‘But what will everyone else think? Who’d listen to a woman? Are you crazy? ’ ”45 But Kennedy did hire Costanza, and he won.

Because the press played such an important role in defining Costanza to the public, initial coverage of her is examined in detail in this chapter. The chapter also discusses her meeting with the National Gay Task Force, a meeting that she believed was in line with Carter’s vision of an open presidency, although it gave fuel to social conservatives critical of the administration. Chapter 6 picks up the issue of the emerging culture wars by examining Costanza’s meeting with administration women unhappy with Carter’s support for the Hyde Amendment.

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