Determination and Resistance
Determination and Resistance in Women’s Higher Education
While working with these texts, students should be reminded of the historical construction of gender evidenced here. In order for students to understand Edward Clarke’s and Stanley Hall’s critiques of women’s education, teachers should contextualize these writers’ particular renderings of women’s reproductive health and pathology in a period that gave credence to the findings of biological determinists. Vocal Darwinian scientists and physicians contended that women were mentally and physically inferior to men, a deficit that education could never, they argued, overcome. Beyond their proclamations of this fundamental difference, Clarke and Hall provided popular medical endorsements for an emerging belief that higher education imperiled women’s reproductive health, a contention that, if true, threatened the survival of humankind and, in turn, roused the court of public opinion.