Women and Feminism Essay

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Women and Feminism

Women in most of the countries of the world today can vote and be elected to public office on the same basis as men. In some countries where the franchise has not been fully gained, women can vote in local elections or in national elections with certain limitations. In a few countries they cannot vote at all. The almost worldwide recognition of the political rights of women came, however, only after centuries of work by individuals and later by organization and intergovernmental bodies. The right to vote became the basic demand of feminist movements because the election was considered to be the fundamental act of political life.

The vote was essential because in the political arena the basic decisions are made that shape the patterns of society in which women live; once gained, it could be used to eliminate other discriminations (Hart, 2006). Historically, suffrage came first, eligibility to hold office next, an actual access to public office still later. The philosophy underlying the demand for feminism was the doctrine of natural rights, and the movement was generally allied with other social reform movements, such as the abolition of slavery, temperance, and the extension of education.

Although the movement was led primarily by women, it enlisted from the beginning the support of many men. Opposition took on different shapes in different countries. Political parties were uncertain of the effect of women’s votes. There was religious opposition to their participation in anything that did not pertain directly to the home and the rearing of children. Economic interests wanted to keep women as voiceless labor force (Lotz, 2003). Specific industries, particularly the brewing and distilling industries, feared the woman’s vote as an ally of the temperance movement.

In general, established laws, customs, attitudes, and habits of thinking were slow to change, especially when they involved the acceptance of new ideas about women and their place in society. This study intends to: (1) scrutinize what feminism really is; (2) know and understand the concept of feminism and; (3) be aware of its goals. II. Background A. Growth of the movement The Seneca Falls convention was followed by conventions in other states. In 1850, the first national convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts with delegates from nine states present.

Another convention held in Syracuse, New York, in 1852 was significant because it marked the first joint venture of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who for the next 50 years were women in the United States. The convention idea continued to spread until women in many states were gathering to launch educational and legislative programs to change the state constitutions and gain legal recognition of woman’s right to vote (Randall, 2002). Following the Civil War, the feminism movement split over tactics.

On May 15, 1869, those who felt that the success of the movement required the enactment of an amendment to the United States Constitution formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (feminism), with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as its leaders. In November 1869, the American Woman Suffrage Association was established tom obtain woman suffrage through amendment of state constitutions; its principal leaders were Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe (Lotz, 2003).

In 1890, the two organizations amalgamated in the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and both methods of work were followed. B. Adoption by States Although widows were granted suffrage in school matters in Kentucky in 1838, the first victory for general woman suffrage (feminist) came in 1869 in the territory of Wyoming. When Wyoming came into the Union in 1890, it became the fist state to provide for woman suffrage in its constitution. It was followed by Colorado (1893) and Utah and Idaho (1896).

Fourteen years passed until another state, Washington, granted women the right of equal suffrage (1910). This was followed by California (1911); Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon (1912); Alaska Territory (1913); Montana and Nevada (1914); New York (1917); and Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Dakota (1918). Suffrage in presidential elections was won Illinois (19130; Nebraska, North Dakota, and Rhode Island (1917); and Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin in 1919. Woman Suffrage (feminism) in primary elections was won in Arkansas in 1917 and in Texas in 1918 (French, 2005).

C. The 19th Amendment 1) Though the National American Woman Suffrage Association was proud of its record in gaining amendments to state constitutions, it was clear that full woman suffrage could be realized only through an amendment to the United States Constitution. Known as the “Anthony Amendment,” it was introduced by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California in 1878 and read: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

” The amendment was defeated in the Senate on January 25, 1887, by a vote of 16 to 34, and although it was reintroduced in each succeeding Congress, it lay dormant until 1914. Then, spurred by a petition of almost 500,000 names presented to Congress by the national American Woman Suffrage Association, and by the agitation of the National Woman’s Party led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, Congress reconsidered the “Anthony Amendment” (Millet, 2000). On March 19, 1914, the amendment was defeated in the Senate, 34 in favor and 35 against; the House defeated it on January 12, 1915, 174 to 204.

Both votes fell considerably short of the necessary two-thirds majority. 2) The active role of women in World War I helped greatly to change the picture. On January 10, 1918, the amendment was passed by the House, 274 to 136, and the Senate followed suit on June 4, 1919, 66 to 30. Extensive campaigns were aged in the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, and 8 days later it was proclaimed part of the United States Constitution as the 19th amendment (Millet, 2000). III. Discussion A.

Concept of feminism Pervasive attention to men at the expense of women in the past has encouraged some researchers to make special efforts to investigate the lives of women. Feminist research is a new and evolving approach. At this point, however, virtually all its advocates hold, first, that its focus should be the condition of women in society and, second that women generally experience subordination. Thus feminist research rejects Weber’s value-free orientation in favor of being overtly political—doing research about and for women (Randall, 2002).

Some proponents of feminist research advocate employing any and all conventional scientific techniques, including all those described in this research. Others maintain that feminist research involves transforming the essence of sociological investigation, which they see as a masculine pursuit of knowledge. Whereas scientific investigation has traditionally demanded detachment, feminists deliberately foster a sympathetic understanding between investigator and subject.

Moreover, conventional scientists take charge of the research agenda by organizing in advance what issues will be raised and how they will be discussed. Feminism is the advocacy of social equality for the sexes in opposition to patriarchy and sexism. The “first wave” of the feminist movement in the United States began in the 1840s as women opposed slavery, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, drew parallels between the oppression of African Americans and the oppression of women (Randall, 2002).

The primary objective of the early women’s movement was securing the right to vote, which was achieved in 1920. But other disadvantages persisted and a “second wave” of feminism arose in the 1960 and continues today. B. Goals of feminism. • Basic Feminist Ideas Feminism views the lives of women and men through the lens of gender. How we think ourselves (gender identity), how we act (gender roles), and our sex’s social standing (gender stratification) are all rooted in the operation of our society.

Although people who consider themselves feminists disagree about many things, most support the following ideas: 3) The importance of change. Feminism is critical of the status quo, advocating social equality for women and men. Thus feminism is not just sociological but decidedly political. Feminist thinking holds that “the personal is political,” calling for individuals to examine how culture defines masculinity in terms of power over others while masculinity in terms over others while constructing femininity as a model of altruism (French, 2005). 4) Expanding human choice.

Feminist argue that cultural conceptions of gender divide the full range of human qualities into two opposing and limited spheres: the female world of emotion and cooperation and the male world of rationality and competition. As an alternative, feminists pursue a “reintegration of humanity” by which each human being can be developing all human traits (French, 2005). The ETA, first proposed in Congress in 1923, has the support of two-thirds of U. S. adults. That is has not yet become law probably reflects the opposition of the men who dominate state legislatures around the country.

5) Ending sexual violence. A major objective of today’s women’s movement is eliminating sexual violence. Feminists argue that patriarchy distorts the relationships between and men, encouraging violence against women in the form of rape, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and pornography (Millet, 2000). IV. Conclusion Finally, feminism enhances women’s control of their sexuality and reproduction. Feminists advocate the free availability of birth control information, which in some states, was illegal as recently as the 1960s.

In addition, most feminists support woman’s right to choose whether to bear children or terminate a pregnancy, rather that allowing men—as husband, physicians, and legislators—to regulate sexuality. Many feminists also support gay peoples’ efforts to overcome prejudice and discrimination in a predominantly heterosexual culture (Deckard, 1999). Reference: 1. Deckard, B. S. (1999). The Women’s Movement: Political, Socioeconomic, and Psychological Issues. 2nd Ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1999. 2. French, M. (2005).

Beyond Power: On women, Men and Morals. New York: Summit Books, 2004. 3. Hart, Jeni (2006). Women and Feminism in Higher Education Scholarship: An Analysis of Three Core Journals Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 77. 4. Lotz, Amanda D. (2003). Communicating Third-Wave Feminism and New Social Movements: Challenges for the Next Century of Feminist Endeavor. Women and Language, Vol. 26 5. Randall, V. (2002). Women and Politics. London: Macmillan Press, 456. 6. Millet, K. (2000). Sexual Politics. Garden City, NY: Double Day, 134-142.

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