History of Suffrage: A Review
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History of Suffrage: A Review

My thoughts on suffrage after watching Ken Burns: History of Suffrage. Available on Amazon.


The "origins" of the Women's Suffrage Movement began with several abolitionists gathering in Seneca Falls, New York to gain Women's rights. This convention sought to discuss and transform the social, civil, and rights of women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, are both prominent figures who played a remarkable role in this convention. Abolitionists desired to eliminate slavery and allow slaves to receive some kind of rights as well. The Women's rights movement began with women having to undergo lack of freedom and natural rights. Women, at the time, were a man's property which is absolutely heartbreaking. Women were also prevented from attending college and speaking up for what is ethical, considering it was perceived as "indecent." A woman should function in the kitchen, and have some kind of "morality, purity, and ethics" (Ken Burns). This convention gathered women to fight for what is right, and that is for women being able to have the right to vote. At the convention, women, as well as several men, discussed the lack of women's rights and that it is critical to persevere and transform society. The first woman's rights convention was the Seneca Falls convention, where the Declaration of Sentiments was revealed. This document is modeled right after the Declaration of independence. The Declaration of Sentiments revealed the equality men and women have and that there should be no such hegemonic group over the other. This critical document gave both men and women, rights to, "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" which is also stated in the Declaration of Independence. Stanton's main purpose was to allow the general public to view the equality both men and women have, more specifically "all men and women are created equal" (DOS, Stanton). Additionally, this social construct of the "cult of true womanhood" should be abolished. The main reason as to why this document was modeled right after the Declaration of Independence was to reveal a sense of hypocrisy. In other words, the Declaration of Independence states all individuals should be able to practice "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." However, where are the women in this? What are their roles in society? Women should be able to vote, partake in the elections, raise their voices, attend schools, and no more having to rely on a male figure for financial stability as well as happiness. The document states "history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries." She is referring to the concept of male individuals making decisions for women, and that it is time to bring immense change. Growth and empowerment for women are crucial. Stanton and the members of the Seneca Falls Convention desired to reform societal constructs. While attending this convention, members experienced harassment and were mocked by those who opposed this central idea. This is critical to note, considering there were individuals from the "other side" that disliked the concept of women gaining rights. Additionally, numerous individuals believe that this convention failed considering it was immediately shut down. Although this is true, the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 which granted women the right to vote.

Despite the challenges and somewhat of achievements, brought by the Women's Suffrage Movement, came with the division. The Women's Suffrage Movement, divided into two factions due to the ratification of the fifteenth amendment. This was after the Civil War, and this amendment granted Black men to vote. The reason for the opposition was that women were excluded from the amendment. Women, of all races, were denied to vote. According to Anthony, she found this exclusion of women "unacceptable." Both Anthony, and Stanton were astonished and offended by this ratification. Lucy Stone, on the other hand, supported the amendment considering it granted some kind of voting to a group of people. She perceived this as a remarkable change, which may, later on, be granted to women. Although it took several years for women to be granted the right to vote, they still won either way! This effect of the division affected the mainstream "women's movement" and "feminism" considering it revealed the time it takes for women being able to gain natural rights. The split, into factions, revealed how women felt about the government prioritizing male rights over female rights. Additionally, although the fifteenth amendment acknowledged Black men to vote, what about the women of color who were not able to vote? In fact, they also encountered racism and gender inequalities. Most of which had happened, within the Seneca Falls Convention. Several reformers of the convention neglected Black females. An issue that divides us today, compared to back then, is the concept of male individuals deciding the rights for women. For instance, men deciding whether or not women should have an abortion. This kind of act, and mentality, where men decide for women is worrisome. Women are being ignored, neglected, and untreated considering the men in power are deciding on their behalf. A second way to perceive the split on mainstream "women's movement", is the fact that several racist women are dividing the movement. In other words, racist women are against the principle of minorities being granted rights that were not given before. This is heartbreaking and needs immediate change to this mentality considering all women deserve rights. Women of all colors, backgrounds, and religions deserve rights in the United States of America. Thus, the division has affected and split the mainstream "women's movement." History tends to repeat itself, and can be transformed with the help from its people as well as the government.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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