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Although the salonnieres were aware of sexual inequality, the narrow boundaries of their world kept their intellectual activities within conventional limits. Many salonieres, in fact, camouflaged their nontraditional activities behind the role of hostess and deferred to men in public.

Though the Bluestockings were trailblazers when compared with the salonnierism, they were not feminists. They were too traditional, too hemmed in by their generation to demand social and political rights. Nonetheless, in their desire for education, their willingness to go beyond the confines of the salon in pursuing their interests, and their championing of unity among women, the Bluestockings began the process of questioning women's role in society.

These ideas were what drove the women of Amherst College to choose the name when the group first formed in 1989.