National Women’s Studies Association Journal
Addams's pacifism grew out of her experiences working for social justice in Chicago's multi-national immigrant community. It rested on her well-tested conviction that justice and international comity could only be achieved through nonviolent means. While Addams at times used maternalist rhetoric, her pacifism was not based on a belief in woman's essential, pacifist nature. Instead, it was grounded on her understanding of democracy, social justice, and international peace as mutually defining concepts. For Addams, progress toward democracy, social justice, and peace involved both institutional reform and changes in moral, intellectual, and affective sensibilities.
A person's sensibilities grow out of his or her experiences and change as that person encounters and reflects on new experiences. That is, acquiring new points of view entails reframing old viewpoints in light of the new experiences. In her speeches and writings, Addams often tried to foster such transitions. Addams's peace writings demonstrate that she believed there were many paths toward peaceful internationalism. Addams used many rhetorical frames, varying them in order to communicate most effectively with specific audiences. When Addams used maternalist rhetoric, she was showing how those who framed their experiences in these terms could revise and broaden this frame toward a peaceful internationalism.
Copyright © 2006, National Women’s Studies Association Journal
Johns Hopkins University Press
Fischer, Marilyn, "Addams's Internationalist Pacifism and the Rhetoric of Maternalism" (2006). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 134.