Ruth Rosen

Ruth Rosen, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Davis, is a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.

Recent Articles

Without Passage of Violence Against Women Act 20 Years Ago, We Might Not Be Talking About Ray Rice

But it may take another century before the beating of women by the men in their lives seems as barbaric and unacceptable as slavery does today.

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This article originally appeared at OpenDemocracy . Until the women’s movement organized in the late 1960s and early 1970s, most Americans considered wife beating a custom. The police ignored what went on behind closed doors and women hid their bruises beneath layers of make-up. Like rape or abortion, wife beating was viewed as a private and shameful act which few women discussed. Many battered victims, moreover, felt they “deserved” to be beaten—because they acted too uppity, didn’t get dinner on the table on time, or couldn’t silence their children’s shouts and screams. Men slugged women with impunity until feminist activists renamed wife beating as domestic violence, and described its victims as “battered women.” Such women needed refuge, and activists created a network of shelters for women who tried to escape, often with their children, the violence threatened by their partners. Throughout the 1970s, feminists sought to teach...

Political Earthquake

Imagine stepping into a polling booth and voting for candidates who, instead of being bought and paid for by corporations, unions, or wealthy donors, are financed by public funds, and accountable to you and other citizens. Sounds utopian, doesn't it? Well, clean-money elections already exist in Maine and Arizona, states too small to challenge the nation's political culture. But public financing of state elections and initiatives this fall just might expand to California, a state so large and influential that every major policy decision tends to influence the rest of the nation. Efforts at clean-money legislation have recently failed in California because elected officials were already too committed to corporations, insurance companies, unions, and wealthy donors. But within only six weeks, the California Nurses Association gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot as an initiative. As a result, on Election Day, Californians will vote on Proposition 89, the Clean Money and...

Big-Box Battle

Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart By Liza Featherstone • Basic Books • 336 pages • $25.00 When Betty Dukes, a 56-year-old African-American Wal-Mart worker in Pittsburg, California, first read about Sam Walton, the founder of the world's largest retailer, she felt inspired. “I learned that Sam Walton had a profound vision and started Wal-Mart on a faith venture,” she said. “I have always deeply appreciated his visionary spirit and his efforts to reach for the stars.” Never did she imagine that she'd become the lead plaintiff in a class-action sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart. In Selling Women Short , veteran journalist Liza Featherstone uses this historic lawsuit as a way to explore and expose the new face of the working poor in America: low-wage, mostly female retail workers. In 2000, Dukes joined five other women in the largest employment-discrimination case ever brought against a private employer...