Core 191: Global History since 1914
Mrs. Sandra Kase
November 15, 2012
Women in the Twentieth Century
It started on May 2, 1914 according to Jessica Jenkins: “women, men, and children across the United States celebrated ‘National Suffrage Day.’ Parades, speeches, and demonstrations in support of the proposed women suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution took place in every state and territory in the country” (131). It started in Connecticut, where more than 531 districts from all over the country gathered and contemplated on the women’s suffrage movement that was spreading across the nation and what was going to come out of this, if there was no action taken place (Jenkins, 2011). The nineteenth- century was a turning point in many aspects of life such as social reform movements; these included health care, antislavery, education and labor reforms (Jenkins, 2011). At the beginning of the twentieth century, women were outsiders to the formal structures of political life, voting, serving on juries, and holding elective office; they were subject to wide-ranging discrimination that marked them as secondary citizens (Todd, 1972). “Over the course of the century, however, women in America moved dramatically into all aspects of public life, politics, labor-force participation, professions, mass media, and popular culture. Deeply divided by race, class, religion, ethnicity, and region, women do not always identify with one another, and as a result women’s collective identity, their sense of solidarity as women, has waxed and waned” (Freeman, 2000) . Women came out of the woodwork and started actively becoming involved in the world. This made the women want to fight for a voice of thing they disagreed on or wanted. A significant wave of feminist activism generated a surge of change in women’s status. Each wave continued in less visible ways into subsequent decades. The story of these changes is a story of persistent activism, sometimes louder and more unified, sometimes quieter and dispersed (Pois, 1999). It is also a story of dramatic change, as women have staked their claim to full participation in American public and political life. In 1900 women’s legal standing was fundamentally governed by their marital status (Pois, 1999). They had very few rights. “A married woman had no separate legal identity from that of her husband. She had no right to control her biological reproduction and no right to sue or be sued since she had no separate standing in court. She had no right to own property in her own name or to pursue a career of her choice” (Todd, 1972). Since the women had no right to much, the husband or “man” in her life controlled everything that happened. If the men wanted something accomplished throughout the house, it was the women’s job to take care of it. The men were only for providing money and going to work and had all the control. If the women spoke out they could have received punishment for doing wrong. “Women could not vote, serve on juries, or hold public office. According to the Supreme Court, they were not “persons” under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law” (Freeman, 2000). Women who were outspoken, fought for their right to be a unique individual instead of just being that person or number to the legislatures. The women wanted more out of themselves instead of just being the “house-wife”, they wanted to be able to make judicial decisions, speak their own mind, hold a job, and contribute to society. As the twentieth-century brought along many parades and reforms, “the parades allowed women to present themselves to onlookers as serious spokeswomen for suffrage (Jenkins 2011). They also demonstrated the courage it took to appear in the public to demand equal voting rights. These events symbolized a universal desire among women to vote by having working-class women march with professional, college, and society women as...
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