A 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 collage schooling, Midge Costanza was once one of many unlikeliest of White condo insiders. but in 1977 she grew to become the 1st lady Assistant to the President for Public Liaison less than Jimmy Carter, rising as a admired point of interest of the yank tradition wars. Tasked with bringing the perspectives of exact curiosity teams to the president, Costanza championed revolutionary explanations at the same time american citizens 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 arguable girl. Mattingly chronicles Costanza's dramatic upward thrust 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 soothe the pursuits of rising spiritual correct, which without delay antagonistic Costanza's beliefs. finally, marginalized either in the White residence and by means of her fellow feminists, Costanza was once stressed to renounce in 1978.

Through the lens of Constanza's tale, readers seize a special point of view of the increase of debates that have outlined the feminist move and sexual politics to this very day. Mattingly additionally finds a much broader, yet heretofore overlooked, narrative of the complicated period of gender politics within the overdue 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, girl politicians, and presidential history.

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Extra resources for A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America's Culture Wars

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9 Nor did Costanza identify with the focus on women’s domestic role within Italian American culture. Scholars have argued that women’s role as the heart of the family gave them a high degree of power and prestige within Italian Amer­ican families,10 and while that generalization may have been true for many families, it did not apply to the Costanza household. 11 Certainly the domestic role held no appeal for Midge Costanza, perhaps because she saw her mother struggle for respect, or perhaps because other things interested her more.

24 Despite his gruffness, Petrossi saw Costanza’s strengths as well as her bad habits. She was soon promoted and in a few years had become Petrossi’s executive assistant and his mistress. In the years Costanza worked for him, Petrossi became a successful real estate investor, owning several significant downtown properties and a num­ ber of businesses, as well as a thoroughbred stable and the Lancers soccer club. His support was instrumental in her emergence as a public figure and politician. Like Costanza, he had strong views and was unafraid to speak his mind.

The particularities of feminist organizations in Washington were not the only reason for the troubled relationship. 17 Ironically, Carter’s campaign had first brought many religious Protestants into politics. His willingness to speak frankly of his “born-again” faith and the emphasis he placed on family and personal values were inspirational. Yet many of the evangelical voters he attracted were dismayed to find that the former Sunday school teacher did not share their position on issues. His tolerance for legal abortion and gay rights, his support for the ERA, and his choice of feminist appointees like Costanza angered evangelicals, as did his administration’s opposition to racial segregation.

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