Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Summary Post: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ellen Dubois, and Sojourner Truth

I found Ellen Dubois' article to be extremely enlightening, especially after our discussion on Tuesday. Dubois chronicles the history of the 1st wave of feminism in light of what was currently going on in the 2nd wave. She ends the article by saying that, although the 1st wave wasn't enough, "Perhaps two waves of feminism will be enough to set us free (4)." This is particularly depressing because we are now in the 3rd wave of feminism and at least to me, it seems nowhere close to solving all the issues women have. During the 1st wave of feminism, Dubois describes women getting involved politically in civil rights movements. They were abolitionists who truly wanted to make a difference. Dubois says that although "The New Left had dedicated itself to equal justice for all...right in its midst women felt that they were not quite being treated as political equals (1)." This feeling of inequality was only heightened when the Grimke sisters were scolded for speaking publicly against slavery, and the idea of the "woman question" was finally raised. Stanton and Motts had a similar experience when they were told that they could not attend an abolitionist convention in England because it might offend the men and were forced to listen through a curtain barrier. Their outrage caused them to host the Seneca Falls convention, officially starting the women's movement. The frustration that women felt was only heightened by the passing of the 14th and 15th amendments. They stated that citizenship and couldn't biased against color, race, or previous condition of servitude and the same restrictions were placed on disfranchisement. Women were outraged that there was absolutely no mention of sex. They were continuing to be completely elbowed out of any rights despite their hard work to achieve civil rights.
Stanton uses her own version of the Declaration of Independence to voice her issues with the oppression of women. Her grievances seem to be mainly against men and society in general. She believes that it is the right of anyone who is oppressed by the government to refuse allegiance to it until they have equal rights. She says that men have continually usurped women of their natural rights and destroyed their confidence and self respect until they believed that all they could do was lead a dependent life. They also have no voice in politics and no representation, making it completely impossible for their concerns to be raised and they are closed out of most educational opportunities. Stanton believes that women have an equal right by the Creator to have the same status as men. She also states that women have a duty to seek out these equal rights, speak out on issues of morality, and not be satisfied with subpar citizenship they have been given. Stanton also argues that it is not only a woman's responsibility to fight for these rights, men should be helping to throw over the monopoly as well so that women can participate with their brothers in all subjects.
Sojourner Truth argues some of the same points as Stanton, but in a different style. She highlights the fact that she did just as much work as a man during her time as a slave. She wants to "answer for the deeds done in my body just as much as a man (64)," and as such believes she should be compensated with the same rights as the men are getting. She says that if black women do not receive the same rights as men, they are just being entered into another form of slavery with a different oppressor. It would be easier to use the momentum of the civil rights movement to receive equal rights for women as well. I thought her ending quote was one of the strongest. She says, "You have been having our right so long, that you think, like a slaveholder, that you own us. I know that it is hard for one who has held the reins so long to give it up; it cuts like a knife. It will feel better when it closes up again (65)." Giving women there equal rights would feel uncomfortable and painful at first, but would be better for all in the long run.

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