Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Women's Suffrage

Ms. O'Connell's presentation was both expected and surprising to me. Humans are trained to notice injustices in the world and act on them, changing the ways of today for the future to make an even better world. The mere fact that women would desire a voice in politics is not the least bit surprising, but the means of doing so was unique.

A significant number of suffragists struck me as slightly selfish. While I realize the position they were in and I by no means take for granted my equal rights today, they seemed to be fighting for selective political equality. Many African Americans were perfectly qualified to vote at the time and weren't allowed to do so. To say that one gender should have the right to vote before all races is unjust.

Before hearing this presentation and reading the 'cookbook article', I was under the impression that the suffrage movement was more extensive. After being informed I realize that women's suffragists were only fighting for, yes, women's suffrage. What about all the other inequities? The rigid gender roles? There must have been women who wanted to work in male dominated fields. Why were women satisfied with being limited and dominated in all other areas but suffrage? To me, this points to one or two specific answers. Either women were content with their places in the home and only sought political participation, or many who disagreed with being homebound felt as though their voices would be lost in the movement and things would never change.

The article highlights a very clear message: women were not attempting to flip gender roles as men assumed. In Ms. O'Connell's handout we read several speeches of men who feared the duties of the home. Men didn't want to have to boil water, cook meals, and care for children. It wasn't that men did not appreciate their families, it was simply the thought of becoming feminine and neglecting the manly jobs they did every day. But this was the argument of suffragists. One right, a distinct set of opinions to partake in political conversations and elections. Women were satisfied with their roles as caregivers and delicate ladies. They attempted to get the message across through cookbooks. Their hidden messages were ways of expressing their love for cooking, the home, and their children. But being gentle ladies does not mean they didn't have the qualifications to vote. Suffragists never intended to flip gender roles and dominate male fields, they simply demanded a voice in politics as though they could offer some insight to a male space.


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