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Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Criticisms of the Nineteenth-Century Gender Order Essay

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Introduction

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the leading feminists who fought for equal rights and liberation for women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s life was characterized by controversy. From the unusual academic and athletic achievements of her adolescence to her demand for female suffrage in 1848 to her declaration of a feminist ideology of independence to agitation for radical social change, to attack the Bible, her actions and attitudes provoked debate and dissension. Her politics, prejudices, rhetoric, associates, and attire-raising practices alarmed many.

Thesis

In spite of the controversy of Stanton’s ideas and values, she had made a great contribution to women’s rights wonderment figuring for equal opportunities between men and women and gender equality.

Main body

In the late 1890s and the early 1800s, women obtained a low social position and were deprived of their rights. The culture of the era was marked by a radical, multifaceted social reform movement steeped in the tradition of Christian evangelism. In the name of the perfectibility of man and the coming of the golden age, there was an upsurge in resolve to change life-to abolish slavery, the family, and marriage. Stanton’s supposed that women’s suffrage should be based on “wealth, education, and refinement” (Stanton 23). She supposed that black men and immigrants should be excluded from this amendment. Stanton called it ‘educated suffrage” which meant that educated and literate men and women should receive a right to vote.

Her behavior outraged the socially conservative element of the population. Eventually, it offended her liberal allies as well, including her husband and her successors in the suffrage movement. Although she appeared to be a respectable woman, Stanton was accurately perceived to be a revolutionary—not a suitable role for a nineteenth-century woman. Having a revolutionary as an ally was a source of embarrassment to Stanton’s colleagues. Stanton’s angry opposition to a reconstruction program that enfranchised black men but excluded black and white women created a conflict in the ranks of suffragists. It resulted in the creation of rival organizations, the National and the American Woman Suffrage associations. The National Association, founded by Stanton, had a broad platform that addressed other women’s issues in addition to demanding a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women (DuBois and Dumenil 33).

Suffragists feared that Stanton’s radical feminism and religious heresy would damn their chances for success. This first phase in the long march toward liberation corresponded to a struggle for social and then political rights in an era when traditional values were being questioned. In the America of Andrew Jackson, the mood was one of social reform and utopian aspirations toward change in the areas of religion and family, and with regard to what Stanton and other abolitionist writers of the time called the “peculiar institution” (Stanton 38) of slavery. For many women who joined the various reform societies, the search for an identity and a status in their own right set them imperceptibly on the road to independence, even before they formed their own movement in 1848. In a letter written from Seneca Falls and dated 20 June 1853, Stanton counseled her humorously, “Susan, I do beg of you…to waste no powder on the Woman’s State Temperance Society. We have other and bigger fish to fry.” (Stanton 52). Stanton was one of many activists, who believed in women’s moral superiority and fueled demands for an independent movement (Buhle et al 82).

With characteristic audacity, Stanton proposed a call for women’s right to vote, the only one of twelve resolutions not to be unanimously adopted. It was Stanton who stood up before the 300 people crowded into the small Seneca Falls chapel to read this historic text, which covered the full extent of women’s subordination in the United States and detailed discrimination in the workplace, at school, in the family, in citizenship, and in religion: it was an act of accusation and provided a carefully considered catalog of demands. (Buhle et al 89). Stanton believed in the need for reforms to ensure profound changes in women’s position in the family and the working world, and in sexuality, became more and more remote.

Early feminism in the United States had been forged in a distinctly American cultural and historical context, but the movement was to undergo outside influences as the waves of immigration increased at the end of the 19th century. Stanton thus thought the moment had come to introduce the question at the tenth national convention of the women’s rights movement in New York in May 1860. However, the ensuing debates on divorce brought to light the profound ideological disagreements that existed within the movement before it was to split. But her position became marginalized in the new association, which disagreed with most of her opinions-the importance of the vote as a means to exert political pressure, “educated suffrage, ” the liberalization of divorce laws, and, finally, her analysis of the role of religion and the Scriptures in the oppression of women, as presented in The Woman’s Bible (1898). During these years, advocates of women’s suffrage placed particular emphasis on the civilizing mission of women, an argument that had served them in the 1820s and 1830s to clear away into the public arena (Buhle et al 72).

At the beginning of the 21 century, women experience discrimination and social inequality in many spheres of life including wage differences and Title IX. The dilemma of inequality in employment is one of the most imperative issues these days. The society in which we live has been created historically by males. Sexual discrimination can also be indirect. Indirect discrimination happens if requirements are the same for everyone but have unfair effects on certain people due to their gender, marital status, or pregnancy. So as to inspect this state of affairs one must make an effort to get to the root of the problem and have got to recognize the sociological factors that cause women to have a much more hard time getting similar benefits, wages, as well as job opportunities as their male counterparts (Buhle et al 122).

Title IX stipulates that all persons despite their gender have equal access to education programs. Thus, many young women now claim that they have fewer opportunities to succeed at their work because of poor education and programs studied at colleges and Universities. Men usually are perceived as career orientated in contrast to women. Men are more readily supported by colleges and Universities than women. In spite of equal rights opportunities and affirmative action policies, women occupy lower-paid jobs in contrast to men. As a whole, the disparity between the expected behaviors of women and the appropriate professional behaviors makes it extremely difficult for most women to prove to their male peers and supervisors they have “what it takes” to be leaders (Buhle et al 122).

Conclusion

In spite of controversial ideas and beliefs, Stanton supported the women’s rights movement and raised women’s consciousness and self-determination. Education unquestionably played a key role throughout the century in women’s drive for their “elevation” and emancipation. Stanton called for women to leave the confinement of the home and to make their voices heard in the political and social spheres.

Works Cited

Buhle, Mari Jo, and Paul Buhle, editors, A Concise History of Woman Suffrage: Selections from the Classic Work of Stanton, Anthony, Gage, and Harper, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

DuBois, E.C., Dumenil, L. Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. Bedford/St. Martin’s; First Edition edition, 2005.

Stanton, E.C. Correspondence, Writings, Speeches. Schocken Books, 1981.

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