Challenge and Change:
Right-Wing Women, Grassroots Activism, and the Baby Boom Generation

June Melby Benowitz

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"A sweeping study of the distaff side of anti-communism/anti-government conspiracy politics."--Eileen Boris, coeditor of The Practice of U.S. Women's History: Narratives, Intersections, and Dialogues

"Benowitz shows how the conservative women of the 1950s helped to lay the foundation for the ‘New Right.’"--Mary C. Brennan, author of Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady


In the mid-twentieth century, a grassroots movement of women--mostly white, middle-class, and conservative--sought to shape the political, cultural, and social ideologies of the baby boomers in what they perceived was a quickly changing world poisoned by communism.

In Challenge and Change, June Melby Benowitz draws on a wide variety of primary sources to highlight the connections between the women of the Old Right, the New Right, and today's Tea Party. Through interviews, as well as through their letters to presidents, editors, and one another, Benowitz allows these women to speak for themselves. She examines the issues that stirred them to action--education, health, desegregation, moral corruption, war, patriotism, and the Equal Rights Amendment--and explores the development of the right-wing women’s movement and its growth from the mid-twentieth into the twenty-first century.

June Melby Benowitz is associate professor of history at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the author of Days of Discontent: American Women and Right-Wing Politics, 1933-1945 and Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion.
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Awards
Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, Bronze - 2015
Choice Outstanding Academic Title - 2017

The scope of the book is impressive. [Benowitz] covers every major rightist issue, including the Vietnam War and the Equal Rights Amendment. . . . Highly recommended.-- CHOICE

From progressive education and the teaching of sex education, to mental health issues, patriotism, the Vietnam War, the New Left and conservative opposition to the equal rights movement....The book will generate interest from general readers...via its contemporary relevance and portraits of spicy personalities. -- Journal of American History

As Benowitz insightfully points out, much of the deeper motivation behind right-wing activism lurked in shifts in America’s population, not just in slogans and signs....The women Benowitz studied often did not focus only on public schools, anti-war protests, or fluoridation. Benowitz manages to incorporate this many-headed activism without simplifying it or compartmentalizing it.-- History of Education Quarterly

Offers a sweeping national study of right-wing women's political organizing in the 1960s and 1970s. . . . [and] an examination of conservative women's activism on a variety of issues, from communism and school prayer to the Vietnam War and the ERA.-- Journal of Social History

Benowitz's insightful book explores the issues that contributed to the rise of the New Right. . . . An important contribution to the study of this moment of political change, and shows just how significant a role women in the grassroots have played and continue to play.-- Indiana Magazine of History

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