Feb 7, 2016

It's a mans world

Women had no rights, and that was how God intended it to be. Females with brains were unnatural creatures. it was the duty of men to protect, govern and guide the weaker sex and the duty of women to obey without question. It was unthinkable that they should vote or hold national office. The nation would be in ruin. Keir Hardie, who had just been elected to the House of Commons, tried to talk about the rights of women, but was laughed at by the members of Parliament. (Noble)

At that time in Britain women could not vote, hold office or enter any profession except teaching or nursing. If a woman inherited property, her husband controlled it when she married: if she left her husband, he kept her fortune; it was his legal right to make all decisions regarding her or their children. (Noble)

After watching the recent movie release, Suffragette, I realized how fortunate women are today, at least in this country. We still have issues with equal pay for the same work, men are placed in higher positions of authority more often than women, and sexual harassment is still an on going problem. But without a doubt we can vote, work, and own property without any recourse from men.

As a divorced woman, I have liberty because of those women who were willing to fight for the vote. Otherwise, I would still be living with any family member who would be willing to take me in. The core is that women wanted to be considered equal to men, and rightly so. Alice Paul said in 1920 when women were granted the vote, "It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality fully won. It has just begun."  She went on a hunger strike and was force fed raw eggs (down her nose) until she vomited blood. She was then put into a sanatorium with the hopes of being declared insane. A psychiatrist examined her and afterwards was asked if she was insane. His reply, "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity." And the war wages on today. 

The Suffragette movement was in the works long before 1920 when the 19th amendment was ratified. In July 1858, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women's rights convention in Seneca, NY and launched the woman suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony registered and voted in the 1872 election in Rochester, NY. She was arrested for "knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully voting for a representative to the Congress of the United States," and was convicted by the state of New York, being fined $100, which she insisted that she would never pay a penny of it. 

The mindset of men and women today are very different than our predecessors with still room for a lot of improvement. We have a long way to go when it comes to attitudes towards people of color, religion, and anyone different from the norm. 

"If its right for men to fight for their freedom, then its right for women to fight for theirs." (Suffragette) 


Emmeline and her Daughters: The Pankhurst Suffragettes by Iris Noble

Teaching with Documents: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment, 

Petition from Susan B. Anthony to Congress, www.archives.gov/education/lessons/woman-suffrage/anthony-petition.html