The Battle For Equality
While the 1960’s experienced a huge cultural shift in acceptance, equality and a demand for an end to domestic violence and sexual harassment, the push for society to view woman differently and for woman to advocate for change didn’t start or end with the 1960’s. As early as 1848, with the “first gathering devoted to women’s rights” (U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007) which eventually led to the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 26th, 1920 that provided women the right to vote; to the 1960’s and the “second wave of fervent activism” that eventually led to “state and federal laws…outlawing discrimination in employment and education” (Ruthsdotter, 1998), women have fought for the most basic rights associated with democracy.
The start down a long road
“I am a slave, a favoured slave at best,
To share his splendor, and seem very blest!
When wearier of these fleeting charms and me,
There yawns the sack – and yonder rolls the sea!
What, am I then a toy for dotard’s play,
To wear but till the gilding frets away?” (Coleridge, 2007) (Gordon A. D., 1997)
Women were expected to focus all of their attention on the home and family; they were expected to provide their husbands with children, with an heir and to provide a comfortable home; for all intents and purposes women were expected to be subordinate to their husbands. If a woman did have to work for pay, she had little to no control over the money she earned, rather, the laws governing women’s rights provided husband’s almost complete control over their wife and family. As women did not have the right to vote, sign contracts, buy or sell property or even defend themselves in court, a woman had very little recourse if she was in an abusive marriage or if a women was wronged in any way. (Ruthsdotter, 1998)
On July 19-20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott held the first gathering in the fight for women’s rights. Elizabeth Stanton drafted and read to the approximately 300 people in attendance the Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions, an excerpt of the reading follows:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.” (Gordon, 1997)
Only one of the women that signed the Seneca Falls Declaration lived...