Women in Public Space

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The founding fathers and every American official during the 1700s illustrated the great extent that men dominated politics. Even with the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed that “all men are created equal,” women did not gain voting rights for nearly 150 years after the document was written. Through the 1800s and early 1900s, women gained confidence and established organizations to assert their own rights. They formed effective strikes and suffrage groups that coincided with political events in the 1900s and aided in passing the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the vote. The path to suffrage began as early as the 1830s when the mill girls of the Lowell, Massachusetts textile factory, delivered fiery speeches over their poor working conditions, instilling a sense of urgency to gain power. In 1909 New York City women shirtwaist workers began picketing in front of their factories, demanding better working conditions. By this time, newspapers had the technology to illustrate their stories with photographs. Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t advanced enough to capture action moments, so most photos were posted and action moments were drawn. Figure 8.1 is an illustration that appeared in the New York Evening Journal on November 10, 1909. The photographs caption says, “Girl Strikers: each of whom has been arrested five times for picketing.” The posed photo is coupled with a drawing showing the action of police arresting the women. When controversy sparked due to the women’s formal dresses and elaborate hats, Clara Lemlich responded, “We’re all human, all of us girls, and we’re young. We like new hats as well as any other young women. Why shouldn’t we?” The shirtwaist strike sparked dozens of garment industry strikes in other cities, including Rochester, New York. Figure 8.2 portrays members of Rochester’s branch of Garment Workers Union picketing in the winter of 1912 for a cut in hours. The photograph shows two women holding a sign that says,...
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