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Literature: World War

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Throughout the years, women have been seen as someone to have children, someone
to cook, someone to clean, and someone who does not deserve rights. Until women
like Elizabeth Cady Stanton rose up against these stereotypes, it looked as if
women would always be seen as them. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was not alone in her
fight to earn rights for women; Susan B. Anthony was helping her. These two
women joined together to start the fight for women’s rights. Almost 100 years
after they started this fight, Gloria Steinem came along and continued it with
the same force. Together Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria
Steinem would change the way that the United States viewed women. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton started the fight for women’s rights at a convention in Seneca Falls,
New York 1848. She spoke out on the so-called equal rights that women had, “It
is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred
right to the elective franchise (1: Scott).” With that great statement
Elizabeth Cady Stanton showed that women do have an opinion and they want to
voice it. As her speech progressed she spoke about the “inalienable rights”
granted to all in the constitution and how these were not given equally to
women. Her radical new ideas sparked a controversial battle that would last well
into the next century. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the first women to wear
bloomers and not a dress around her town and home, causing her husband (a judge)
much ridicule and embarrassment. In 1851 at another convention in Seneca Falls,
she met Susan B. Anthony a woman as passionate about the fight for women to vote
as she was; oddly enough they met while Stanton was wearing bloomers. The women
immediately became friends, and started full force to gain equal rights for
women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote most of the speeches delivered by Susan B.
Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton became the woman behind the scenes, and as the
years progressed so did their fight. Susan B. Anthony helped start the movement
for women’s rights in 1851 when she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Between the
two of them, these women started in New York and slowly worked across the
country educating women on what rights they should have and why they did not
have them. The two were strongly fighting for a woman’s right to vote. At the
time the only people allowed to vote were white males over the age of 21, no
slaves, no colored people, and no women. From 1854 to 1860 Susan B. Anthony and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked in New York to change all laws discriminating
against women. Anthony began organizing women all over the state to help with
this fight. In 1869 Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton Lucy Stone and
Henry Beecher joined forces to organize the National Woman Suffrage Association.
This group would work to get a constitutional amendment that would grant women
the right to vote (the idea was sparked by the 15th amendment which stated that
the newly freed slaves had the right to vote). To make their statement more
dramatic Susan B. Anthony and 12 other women cast their votes in the 1872
presidential election. These votes were one of many dramatic steps in gaining
voting rights for women. Anthony was arrested, convicted, fined $100, and then
set free for this, she soon became an icon in history. In 1920 the fight for a
women’s right to vote was soon over as the 19th amendment to the constitution
was passed allowing this right. This also allowed women to become more outgoing
and true to there own beliefs. Later in the century women would once again have
to fight for equality but for a very different reason. Gloria Steinem is not
only a successful businesswomen and co-founder of “Ms.” magazine, she was
also a major figure in the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and
early 1970s. It may have been written in her genetic code to be a feminist as
her grandmother, Pauline Perlmutter Steinem, was a suffragist in the 1900’s.
Steinem’s major life change came shortly before she left for a trip to India
in 1956. She discovered that she was pregnant. After overhearing a conversation,
she came to know about a new procedure that could possibly help her, an
abortion. Half of the money she had saved for her trip to India went toward the
operation. Shortly afterward her visa for India came and she was on her way to
start a new life. In India she found her political views, and that marriage, and
romance were not her thing. Of course none of these views could surface just
yet, at the time women did not usually express their views. By the time the
sixties were coming to a close, Steinem’s point of view on a women’s rights
had drastically changed. On March 10, 1969 Steinem and other protestors
disturbed a meeting which was trying to wave the right for a women to have an
abortion. She had become one of the Redstockings, a group that fought for
women’s rights, and she was now a feminist. Over the next ten years Steinem
strongly announced that women everywhere wanted equal pay for equal work. She
became a published freelance writer and created a name for herself with each
protest she organized. Gloria Steinem did not just fight for women’s rights in
America; she also fought for women’s rights in other countries and equal
rights around the world. The fight for women’s rights started in 1848 with one
grand statement and has progressed throughout the years. Today many women around
the world are still oppressed by laws stating that they do not have the same
rights as men. When Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and 12 other women
voted in the 1872 presidential election they had a direct effect on the way
women would be viewed. No longer were women wives, mothers, and cooks, women
were now opinionated, independent, and wanted recognition. It took almost 75
years to get the first equality law past in this country but without that one
law who knows where women would be today. Even though women had the right to
vote, they still did not have the right to be what they wanted. Women went to
college, but afterward most stayed home to continue the cooking and cleaning
routine. It was not until World War 2 that women would go out to earn money.
Even during the time women were earning money a women’s opinion was not wanted
in a conversation and if she gave it, her opinion was not acknowledged. In the
1960s during the time of the equal rights movement of African-Americans, women
were starting to have another movement of their own. Women wanted recognition.
Among their leaders was Gloria Steinem. Most of the women that led those
protests were the daughters of women who worked during the war. Some women just
wanted the same money men were getting for doing the same job. Whatever the
cause, women across the country were joining forces to get these rights. As of
the mid 1980s women were holding executive positions and earning the same pay as
men. In 1984 Geraldine Anne Ferraro ran for vice president and at the same time
went down as a major mark for women’s equality. Sandra Day O’Connor has
become the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, and Janet Reno is
our current Attorney General. These women may not have had the opportunity to
serve in any of these positions had it not been for the women who fought for
equal rights in 1851. The fighting had paid off. Women everywhere are now
getting the recognition they deserved. Without women like Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem to start voicing their opinions
when they did who knows were women would stand today.
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