The broad purpose of Crystal Eastman’s essay is to impart the importance of instilling feminist ideals throughout society in order for women to gain true freedom and equality with men. Her thesis statement is, “Now they can say what they are really after; and what they are after, in common with all the rest of the struggling world, is freedom” (Eastman). The “they” she is referring to is women.
Eastman does not lay out her argument in her thesis with a list of items that will be discussed. First, she introduces who feminists are, why they are feminists, and what they know as feminists. Eastman then discusses some of the problems with today’s society that are limiting women that she feels people do not recognize. She lists some of the “easiest” ways of promoting feminism, which is “by breaking down all remaining barriers, actual as well as legal, which make it difficult for women to enter or succeed in the various professions, to go into and get on in business, to learn trades and practice them, to join trade unions” (Eastman). She discusses the differences between a pair of women setting up a home together, where there is balance, and a married couple living together, where the housework burden is placed on the woman and the difficulties of changing this attitude in males. Finally, she talks about how women will not have freedom or equality unless they are allowed to control their family size and the jobs of child raising and housekeeping are recognized and rewarded financially.
Eastman’s style of writing is conversational and clear, as if it is a discussion with peers. For those sympathetic to her ideas, this style will be very appealing. To those who are not sympathetic, they may find her style to be too anecdotal or hypothetical. Unfortunately, at the time there may have not been any concrete examples of how her ideas have improved any society, which her detractors would demand.
The author hooks her readers by introducing the idea of freedom, a word that is highly respected by and that Americans associate with themselves proudly. It is a very clever way to get her readers, even those who do not agree with her cause, to think about the ideas she presents in terms of freedom, a thing most Americans believe everyone in the country must strive for.
Eastman, Crystal. “Now We Can Begin.” About.com: Women’s History. 2012. Web. 11 May 2012.