Women, Gender ; Freedom Movement

Many struggles took place and are still taken place in the society. Most of the struggles have been caused by the oppression coming from one quarter of the society. In whichever the struggle, women have always been affected, either directly or indirectly. Slavery and racism were some of the struggles heavily fought. On the other hand, women have had their own struggles to fight for the rights they feel have been affecting them as a gender group. One such important struggle is to have the rights to vote. After abolishing inhumane activities like slavery, there was a male political culture that constantly favored the men but affected the women.In the past generations, there have been many legal, social and political changes that have taken place, which goes without being noticed by the current generation. It even becomes sometimes difficult especially for the younger generations to accept that whatever being told actually took place, but have come to accept the facts and taken life with stride.There are many changes in the religion, education, employment and the general social life that were brought about by the women movements, which were not spontaneous. It was the women’s deliberate brave actions that led to the changes to take place.  In many cases, women have never been passive recipient in changes that took place in the society. Women applied many different tactics in bringing change in the society, and most of the tactics have been completely non violent. Good enough, these tactics have always been a success.It is evident that the women’s rights movements bore good fruits by the look of how many women hold high profile jobs in the government and even private institutions. This has been further shown by the political will which saw Senator Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. Women had a lot of difficulties to make entrance in the political arena in the past.Women Suffrage and Rights MovementAmerican gained independent from the colonial powers many years, but the women still did not enjoy the freedom for quite a long period. In the fight for the independent of the US, the women had played significant roles which were as well dangerous. However, the government did not give these women active roles to play in the society. These among other concerns led to the beginning of the women to struggle in what they believed was their rights.After America declared its independence from Britain, the constitution gave the white males who could read and write the powers to vote. After slavery was abolished, the constitution was changed to allow the black males to vote. At all this time, women were not allowed to vote. Women were not even economically independent. All a woman had belonged to the husband the moment they got married.  This implied that women were not full citizens of the US during that time. The women suffrage movement was started in the mid 19th century as a way of fighting for the women’s voting rights. Led by Susan Anthony among other leaders, the women believed in having economic as well as personal independence. In essence the women believed that for there to be social development in the society, women had to be empowered, and be treated in the same manner as men, with the privileges men enjoyed, e.g. voting (Dinkin, 1995).Susan Anthony was encouraged to take up women empowerment from her church (Quakers), which believed in women rights. With these believes, Susan spoke against injustices on women and the blacks. Political power controls many aspects of life, and it is without political empowerment that Susan realized women cannot be free citizens. Therefore, Susan campaigned for the women’s to have the right to vote. Initially, because women were never used to doing things for themselves, they could not even see the importance of being told that they needed to have the rights to vote. Since women did not own anything for themselves, the struggle seemed to be very difficult to undertake. It was difficult to make any meaningful changes to the women unless they were independent (Aks, 2004).Susan later met Elizabeth C. Stanton who also strongly supported for the women’s rights. The two collaborated and they saw the fruits of their struggle come to fruition in 1860 when New York passed the laws that allowed for the married women to own property, and have a say on their salaries. This success in New York started to spread into other areas.After the end of the civil war, Miss Anthony expanded her struggle to help the blacks have more rights by enabling them to vote. This was achieved in 1868 when the black men were allowed to vote, but not the women. This did not go down well with Miss Anthony who wanted to see the women’s voting rights included in the fourteenth amendment. After failing to secure this, Miss Anthony led a group of women to vote in the presidential elections of 1872 knowing that they did not have the rights to do so(DuBois, 1998). This led to her being arrested and charged for violating the voting rules. After being found guilty of the offence, Miss Anthony refused to pay the hundred thousands dollar fine she had been asked to pay. Instead she went ahead to fight for the constitutional amendment that required women to have voting rights. Miss Anthony continued with this struggle until her old age when she died in 1906, knowing that at last her struggle would one day see the daylight even though she might not have lived to see it. This was achieved in 1919 when the US congress amended the law to allow women to vote. This become an effective law in 1920, and named the Anthony amendment in honor of her struggle (DuBois, 1998).Although many of the women’s movement have been known to be non violent, the early movements took some radical forms. Before Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton came into play, there had been other feminist movements led by Kate Mullaney and Augusta Lewis. Abolitionist movements, which were radical, were led by women like Fanny Wright and Grimke sisters. At this time, women were more of slaves as they did not have any saying upon their lives the moment they got married.The first Women Movements that took place in the US were tied to anti slavery campaigns. Due to the participation in the abolitionist Movements, it is when the women realized that they were themselves the slaves while all along they thought to be free people. The first Women’ Rights Convention started in 1848 after Mrs. Stanton and her colleague were denied a chance to participate in the convention that took place in 1840, which was fighting against slavery (Sanders, 2007). It is rather amazing to realize that a lot of information concerning the women’s rights to vote has been given more powers and acknowledgement than the feminists and the abolitionist movements. This has exposed the hypocritical structure of the male power in the United States. Since the United States got its independence, it emerged that democracy was to prevail. However, this was never the case to be. Only a few white men enjoyed the freedom while letting the whole bunch of women and the blacks to struggle in the society considered to be democratic. Therefore, the Women’s Rights Movement and the abolitionist movements were almost tearing the country apart working together or separately. This was evident during the civil war (Dinkin, 1995).Looking at how long it took for the American women to get the rights to vote, it shows how the male domination was opposed to the women empowerment. It took a lot of effort and dedication to change the “male” in the constitution so that the women could get the fundamental rights of voting which is usually the key to many other rights. Different many campaigns had to be carried out to convince the legislatures to accept for women suffrage.After the abolition of slavery, it became a constitutional concern on how to handle the freed slaves.  The women leaders took the advantage of the confusion that raged at the constitutional office to push for their own rights to be encroached in the constitution. The consideration of the rights to vote as a natural right was enhanced during the reconstruction period. This belief strengthened the women’s belief in suffrage rights. If voting is a natural right for everybody, it turns out that the women were not asking for anything special or anything that is far much beyond what they needed to get. It even made the female leaders to be more agitated for the rights when they realized that when they demanded their rights, it was regarded as women and Negroes matters and not the white males in the society. It did not imply that the women or the Negroes demanded for any special favor that the male whites did not have. The women were opposed to human beings being segregated in terms of sex or race. This kind of segregation showed barbaric behaviors by the white males (Robnett, 1999).Therefore, as the Republican Party went ahead to discus the constitution in regards to the freed salves, the women leaders insisted on the constitution being discussed on the basis on universal suffrage and not any special basis. The important point during the reconstruction era was that black women were given more attention than had previously done. Introducing the black woman in the political dialogue was an opportunity that was grabbed by the women leaders to champion for the rights of the women. Championing for the rights of the black woman seemed a better leeway for the women leaders to use than using the white woman. Whether to undertake reconstruction basing on black suffrage or universal suffrage caused division within the Republican Party. Those who were opposed to slavery abolition were never willing to admit that they erred in the status of slavery as far as natural rights were concerned. This similarly applied to reconstruction-era politicians who could not take in the political strength the women claimed (Robnett, 1999).There are many forces that can be attributed to the reasons why men were so much opposed to women suffrage. One major reason that could be attributed to this is capitalism. The Women Rights Movements were from the start pro the labor reforms which the industrial states especially in the North vehemently opposed. The women offered cheap labor supply in these states, hence letting them have their voting rights implied a threat to these states.The second reason the women suffrage was fought much came from the South, when linking the issues to racism. The Women Rights Movements were mostly linked with the black struggle. Therefore, to keep their interests, the states that enjoyed and supported slavery and slave trade were against suffrage (Wilkerson-Freeman, 2002).The government policies seemed to protect the interests of a few greedy and selfish politicians who wanted to maintain their own interests, as they knew that it might not be possible to have their way if the women were allowed to vote. The politicians knew that if at all they allowed women to vote, then they would demand for the change of for instance child labor laws and other laws that only favored the powerful men.The church and the family also played a major role in making it difficult for women to get their rights. Many churches taught of a woman being submissive and her role reduced to only that of procreation. If this was changed, the male feared for their dominance and supremacy being washed away and feeling that this could lead to sexual double standard. It was felt that by giving the women the rights they demanded would mean doing away with the traditional family structure, and in the end threaten the male dominance.The major obstacle in recognizing for the women’s rights was entrenched into the law. The male used all means in their powers to see that the suffrage did not go through. Even after along struggle to have the constitutional change which came after many years in the 1918, many men used several tactics to delay the system being fully operational which saw it coming into full operation in 1920. However, the opposers never gave up that easily because the constitution had been changed. They used other tactics to derail and undermine the efforts and the other major aims that suffrage had (DuBois, 1998).It seems that with the struggle for gaining the rights to vote, everything else that pertained to the women’s rights movements had been swallowed. The original organizers who had visions on where they wanted to take the movement died leaving other generations to take over without knowing exactly what to do nor how to act. Therefore, by the time the suffrage movement was being disbanded, the women’s movements were long no more. This means those who were opposed to the women’s movements were again having their way.ConclusionThe women fought endlessly to get the rights the current women are enjoying in the American society. However, it can not be said that the women have attained a full political independence. Many women are still voting or governing as wives. The women voters seem to be manipulated in the voting pattern by the male dominance. However, the bright side is that many women work and keep their wages instead of it being referred to as the property of the man. The women can make their own arrangement of their wages as well as being able to make any other decisions that affect their lives.Reference:Aks J. H (2004): Women’s Rights in Native North America: Legal Mobilization in the US and Canada, LFB Scholarly Publishing,Dinkin R J. (1995): Before Equal Suffrage: Women in Partisan Politics from Colonial Times to 1920, Greenwood Press,DuBois E. C (1998): Woman Suffrage and Women’s Rights; ISBN 0814719015, NYU Press.Robnett B (1999): How Long? How Long? African American Women and the Struggle for Civil Rights; New York, Oxford University Press,Sanders V (2007): African American Women and the Struggle for Racial Equality: Viv Sanders Corrects the Male Bias in the Study of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, Journal of History Review,Wilkerson-Freeman S (2002): The Second Battle for Woman Suffrage: Alabama White Women, the Poll Tax, and V. O. Key’s Master Narrative of Southern Politics, Journal of Southern History, Vol. 68,;