Kate surveyed a few bloggers and came up with a compilation of the 50 Most Defining Moments in American History. Now, I have some quibbles–I mean, the Civil War ranks below Watergate?!–but it’s a decent list overall.

But what I wanna know is: Where are the women? What kind of sexist crap is this?! Fifty defining events and all but two (Seneca Falls at #4 and Rosa Parks at #48) were dominated by men! And, even those two are tainted because they’re slashed with some other stuff that men did. It just goes to show how sexist the blogosphere is!

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wind Rider says:

    Washington DC – Reuters

    In what appeared to be a massive protest demonstration, so called ‘blogger’ James of Outside the Beltway Fame was last seen being chased by a screaming horde, apparently composed mostly of women. The crowd, by all accounts, did not seem to be ‘amused’.


  2. Seneca Falls made #4? Personally, I’d rank it behind Rosa Parks. Or Roe v. Wade. Or Griswold v. Connecticut. Or even behind that A-10 pilot (“Killer Chick”) who got her plane shot up over Baghdad but made it back OK.

    IMHO considering Seneca Falls historically significant in terms of women’s rights is on par with considering the Mayflower Compact the root cause of the U.S. Constitution. Now, if you want to credit Seneca Falls with kickstarting the temperance movement (and what a great public policy that was!), that seems more credible.

  3. James Joyner says:

    It is something of a stretch. Kate was fairly liberal in combining entries that addressed similar themes. It was slashed with women’s suffrage, which is certainly pretty significant although not moreso than, say, the Civil War.

    Of course, I wouldn’t have ranked Opn Iraqi Freedom at all and think 9/11, while very significant, is likely not a top 10 thing in the grand scheme of things. But I was too lazy to come up with a list of 50, so didn’t send a submission.

  4. John Lemon says:

    I think Madonna should have been on the list. I dunno what for, but I think she should have been on the list. Maybe for just being Madonna. I mean, that is a heavy historical burden, right?

  5. James: political history does tend to be dominated by “Presidents and Generals,” as they say. If we’re discussing history in the traditional sense, there will definitely be a sense that men dominate things. If you’re discussing social history, that’s a whole different thing. As I recall, black history didn’t quite get its due either on Kate’s list.

    Abolitionism was more pivotal than female suffrage, simply because slavery is more of an abomination than being barred from voting. And the Civil War was significant in several ways–only one of which was its resulting in the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Seneca Falls is generally considered the birth of the women’s suffrage movement. But please consider that the suffrage movement is braided together not only with temperence, but also with abolitionism itself, and the move to limit family size (at the time it was couched in terms of women’s moral superiority, to which a gentlemanly husband was supposed to yield–but the intent was to give women the right to say no to their husbands in order to prevent pregnancy). Seeing as this ultimately resulted in birth control, I’d see it as a damned significant development that affects every single one of us every single day.

    Those white, upper-middle-class women of the nineteenth century accomplished a great deal.

  6. James Joyner says:


    I agree that Seneca Falls was important as the start of a movement, but it was a decades long process, not a single event, that carried the day. The list was supposed to be about “events” rather than ideas. “Industrialization” was pretty important too, but doesn’t get a mention.

  7. “‘Industrialization’ was pretty important too, but doesn’t get a mention.”

    Exactly. There’s more to history than great events, however important such events may be. Industrialization is a good example of the kind of long-term and wholesale transformation that cannot be captured in a Defining Moment. If people want to find women in history, they need to look toward just such complex and longer-term processes and transformations, because until very recently women generally did not figure prominently in political events. Trying to find enough women to match men in the Defining Moments category is a losing game, and only ends in erasing women from history.

  8. James Joyner says:


    But I always thought history was just about memorizing a list of dates?