History Shorts: The Mother's Advice that Led to Women's Suffrage

History Shorts: The Mother's Advice that Led to Women's Suffrage

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History Shorts: The Mother's Advice that Led to Women's Suffrage - HISTORY

WOMEN'S RIGHTS . Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Wifehood and motherhood were regarded as women's most significant professions. In the 20th century, however, women in most nations won the right to vote and increased their educational and job opportunities. Perhaps most important, they fought for and to a large degree accomplished a reevaluation of traditional views of their role in society.

Early Attitudes Toward Women

Since early times women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life. Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil. In Greek mythology, for example, it was a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men.

Early Christian theology perpetuated these views. St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: "Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object." Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Christian theologian, said that woman was "created to be man's helpmeet, but her unique role is in conception . . . since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men."

The attitude toward women in the East was at first more favorable. In ancient India, for example, women were not deprived of property rights or individual freedoms by marriage. But Hinduism, which evolved in India after about 500 BC, required obedience of women toward men. Women had to walk behind their husbands. Women could not own property, and widows could not remarry. In both East and West, male children were preferred over female children.

Nevertheless, when they were allowed personal and intellectual freedom, women made significant achievements. During the Middle Ages nuns played a key role in the religious life of Europe. Aristocratic women enjoyed power and prestige. Whole eras were influenced by women rulers for instance, Queen Elizabeth of England in the 16th century, Catherine the Great of Russia in the 18th century, and Queen Victoria of England in the 19th century.

The Weaker Sex?

Women were long considered naturally weaker than men, squeamish, and unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. In most preindustrial societies, for example, domestic chores were relegated to women, leaving "heavier" labor such as hunting and plowing to men. This ignored the fact that caring for children and doing such tasks as milking cows and washing clothes also required heavy, sustained labor. But physiological tests now suggest that women have a greater tolerance for pain, and statistics reveal that women live longer and are more resistant to many diseases.

Maternity, the natural biological role of women, has traditionally been regarded as their major social role as well. The resulting stereotype that "a woman's place is in the home" has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves. Today, contraception and, in some areas, legalized abortion have given women greater control over the number of children they will bear. Although these developments have freed women for roles other than motherhood, the cultural pressure for women to become wives and mothers still prevents many talented women from finishing college or pursuing careers.

Traditionally a middle-class girl in Western culture tended to learn from her mother's example that cooking, cleaning, and caring for children was the behavior expected of her when she grew up. Tests made in the 1960s showed that the scholastic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school. The major reason given was that the girls' own expectations declined because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood. This trend has been changing in recent decades.

Formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. In colonial America girls learned to read and write at dame schools. They could attend the master's schools for boys when there was room, usually during the summer when most of the boys were working. By the end of the 19th century, however, the number of women students had increased greatly. Higher education particularly was broadened by the rise of women's colleges and the admission of women to regular colleges and universities. In 1870 an estimated one fifth of resident college and university students were women. By 1900 the proportion had increased to more than one third.

Women obtained 19 percent of all undergraduate college degrees around the beginning of the 20th century. By 1984 the figure had sharply increased to 49 percent. Women also increased their numbers in graduate study. By the mid-1980s women were earning 49 percent of all master's degrees and about 33 percent of all doctoral degrees. In 1985 about 53 percent of all college students were women, more than one quarter of whom were above age 29.

The Legal Status of Women

The myth of the natural inferiority of women greatly influenced the status of women in law. Under the common law of England, an unmarried woman could own property, make a contract, or sue and be sued. But a married woman, defined as being one with her husband, gave up her name, and virtually all her property came under her husband's control.

During the early history of the United States, a man virtually owned his wife and children as he did his material possessions. If a poor man chose to send his children to the poorhouse, the mother was legally defenseless to object. Some communities, however, modified the common law to allow women to act as lawyers in the courts, to sue for property, and to own property in their own names if their husbands agreed.

Equity law, which developed in England, emphasized the principle of equal rights rather than tradition. Equity law had a liberalizing effect upon the legal rights of women in the United States. For instance, a woman could sue her husband. Mississippi in 1839, followed by New York in 1848 and Massachusetts in 1854, passed laws allowing married women to own property separate from their husbands. In divorce law, however, generally the divorced husband kept legal control of both children and property.

In the 19th century, women began working outside their homes in large numbers, notably in textile mills and garment shops. In poorly ventilated, crowded rooms women (and children) worked for as long as 12 hours a day. Great Britain passed a ten-hour-day law for women and children in 1847, but in the United States it was not until the 1910s that the states began to pass legislation limiting working hours and improving working conditions of women and children.

Eventually, however, some of these labor laws were seen as restricting the rights of working women. For instance, laws prohibiting women from working more than an eight-hour day or from working at night effectively prevented women from holding many jobs, particularly supervisory positions, that might require overtime work. Laws in some states prohibited women from lifting weights above a certain amount varying from as little as 15 pounds (7 kilograms) again barring women from many jobs.

During the 1960s several federal laws improving the economic status of women were passed. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required equal wages for men and women doing equal work. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination against women by any company with 25 or more employees. A Presidential Executive Order in 1967 prohibited bias against women in hiring by federal government contractors.

But discrimination in other fields persisted. Many retail stores would not issue independent credit cards to married women. Divorced or single women often found it difficult to obtain credit to purchase a house or a car. Laws concerned with welfare, crime, prostitution, and abortion also displayed a bias against women. In possible violation of a woman's right to privacy, for example, a mother receiving government welfare payments was subject to frequent investigations in order to verify her welfare claim. Sex discrimination in the definition of crimes existed in some areas of the United States. A woman who shot and killed her husband would be accused of homicide, but the shooting of a wife by her husband could be termed a "passion shooting." Only in 1968, for another example, did the Pennsylvania courts void a state law which required that any woman convicted of a felony be sentenced to the maximum punishment prescribed by law. Often women prostitutes were prosecuted although their male customers were allowed to go free. In most states abortion was legal only if the mother's life was judged to be physically endangered. In 1973, however, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could not restrict a woman's right to an abortion in her first three months of pregnancy.

Until well into the 20th century, women in Western European countries lived under many of the same legal disabilities as women in the United States. For example, until 1935, married women in England did not have the full right to own property and to enter into contracts on a par with unmarried women. Only after 1920 was legislation passed to provide working women with employment opportunities and pay equal to men. Not until the early 1960s was a law passed that equalized pay scales for men and women in the British civil service.

Women at Work

In colonial America, women who earned their own living usually became seamstresses or kept boardinghouses. But some women worked in professions and jobs available mostly to men. There were women doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, writers, and singers. By the early 19th century, however, acceptable occupations for working women were limited to factory labor or domestic work. Women were excluded from the professions, except for writing and teaching.

The medical profession is an example of changed attitudes in the 19th and 20th centuries about what was regarded as suitable work for women. Prior to the 1800s there were almost no medical schools, and virtually any enterprising person could practice medicine. Indeed, obstetrics was the domain of women.

Beginning in the 19th century, the required educational preparation, particularly for the practice of medicine, increased. This tended to prevent many young women, who married early and bore many children, from entering professional careers. Although home nursing was considered a proper female occupation, nursing in hospitals was done almost exclusively by men. Specific discrimination against women also began to appear. For example, the American Medical Association, founded in 1846, barred women from membership. Barred also from attending "men's" medical colleges, women enrolled in their own for instance, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1850. By the 1910s, however, women were attending many leading medical schools, and in 1915 the American Medical Association began to admit women members.

In 1890, women constituted about 5 percent of the total doctors in the United States. During the 1980s the proportion was about 17 percent. At the same time the percentage of women doctors was about 19 percent in West Germany and 20 percent in France. In Israel, however, about 32 percent of the total number of doctors and dentists were women.

Women also had not greatly improved their status in other professions. In 1930 about 2 percent of all American lawyers and judges were women in 1989, about 22 percent. In 1930 there were almost no women engineers in the United States. In 1989 the proportion of women engineers was only 7.5 percent.

In contrast, the teaching profession was a large field of employment for women. In the late 1980s more than twice as many women as men taught in elementary and high schools. In higher education, however, women held only about one third of the teaching positions, concentrated in such fields as education, social service, home economics, nursing, and library science. A small proportion of women college and university teachers were in the physical sciences, engineering, agriculture, and law.

The great majority of women who work are still employed in clerical positions, factory work, retail sales, and service jobs. Secretaries, bookkeepers, and typists account for a large portion of women clerical workers. Women in factories often work as machine operators, assemblers, and inspectors. Many women in service jobs work as waitresses, cooks, hospital attendants, cleaning women, and hairdressers.

During wartime women have served in the armed forces. In the United States during World War II almost 300,000 women served in the Army and Navy, performing such noncombatant jobs as secretaries, typists, and nurses. Many European women fought in the underground resistance movements during World War II. In Israel women are drafted into the armed forces along with men and receive combat training.

Women constituted more than 45 percent of employed persons in the United States in 1989, but they had only a small share of the decision-making jobs. Although the number of women working as managers, officials, and other administrators has been increasing, in 1989 they were outnumbered about 1.5 to 1 by men. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women in 1970 were paid about 45 percent less than men for the same jobs in 1988, about 32 percent less. Professional women did not get the important assignments and promotions given to their male colleagues. Many cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1970 were registered by women charging sex discrimination in jobs.

Working women often faced discrimination on the mistaken belief that, because they were married or would most likely get married, they would not be permanent workers. But married women generally continued on their jobs for many years and were not a transient, temporary, or undependable work force. From 1960 to the early 1970s the influx of married women workers accounted for almost half of the increase in the total labor force, and working wives were staying on their jobs longer before starting families. The number of elderly working also increased markedly.

Since 1960 more and more women with children have been in the work force. This change is especially dramatic for married women with children under age 6: 12 percent worked in 1950, 45 percent in 1980, and 57 percent in 1987. Just over half the mothers with children under age 3 were in the labor force in 1987. Black women with children are more likely to work than are white or Hispanic women who have children. Over half of all black families with children are maintained by the mother only, compared with 18 percent of white families with children.

Despite their increased presence in the work force, most women still have primary responsibility for housework and family care. In the late 1970s men with an employed wife spent only about 1.4 hours a week more on household tasks than those whose wife was a full-time homemaker.

A crucial issue for many women is maternity leave, or time off from their jobs after giving birth. By federal law a full-time worker is entitled to time off and a job when she returns, but few states by the early 1990s required that the leave be paid. Many countries, including Mexico, India, Germany, Brazil, and Australia require companies to grant 12-week maternity leaves at full pay.

Women in Politics

American women have had the right to vote since 1920, but their political roles have been minimal. Not until 1984 did a major party choose a woman Geraldine Ferraro of New York to run for vice-president (see Ferraro).

Jeanette Rankin of Montana, elected in 1917, was the first woman member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1968 Shirley Chisholm of New York was the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives (see Chisholm). Hattie Caraway of Arkansas first appointed in 1932 was, in 1933, the first woman elected to the United States Senate. Senator Margaret Chase Smith served Maine for 24 years (1949-73). Others were Maurine Neuberger of Oregon, Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, Paula Hawkins of Florida, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

Wives of former governors became the first women governors Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas (1925-27 and 1933-35) and Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming (1925-27) (see Ross, Nellie Tayloe). In 1974 Ella T. Grasso of Connecticut won a governorship on her own merits.

In 1971 Patience Sewell Latting was elected mayor of Oklahoma City, at that time the largest city in the nation with a woman mayor. By 1979 two major cities were headed by women: Chicago, by Jane Byrne, and San Francisco, by Dianne Feinstein. Sharon Pratt Dixon was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1990.

Frances Perkins was the first woman Cabinet member as secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Oveta Culp Hobby was secretary of health, education, and welfare in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Cabinet. Carla A. Hills was secretary of housing and urban development in Gerald R. Ford's Cabinet. Jimmy Carter chose two women for his original Cabinet Juanita M. Kreps as secretary of commerce and Patricia Roberts Harris as secretary of housing and urban development. Harris was the first African American woman in a presidential Cabinet. When the separate Department of Education was created, Carter named Shirley Mount Hufstedler to head it. Ronald Reagan's Cabinet included Margaret Heckler, secretary of health and human services, and Elizabeth Dole, secretary of transportation. Under George Bush, Dole became secretary of labor she was succeeded by Representative Lynn Martin. Bush chose Antonia Novello, a Hispanic, for surgeon general in 1990.

Reagan set a precedent with his appointment in 1981 of Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman on the United States Supreme Court (see O'Connor). The next year Bertha Wilson was named to the Canadian Supreme Court. In 1984 Jeanne Sauve became Canada's first female governor-general (see Sauve).

In international affairs, Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed to the United Nations in 1945 and served as chairman of its Commission on Human Rights (see Roosevelt, Eleanor). Eugenie Anderson was sent to Denmark in 1949 as the first woman ambassador from the United States. Jeane Kirkpatrick was named ambassador to the United Nations in 1981.

Three women held their countries' highest elective offices by 1970. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1960 to 1965 and from 1970 to 1977 (see Bandaranaike). Indira Gandhi was prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 until her assassination in 1984 (see Gandhi, Indira). Golda Meir was prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974 (see Meir). The first woman head of state in the Americas was Juan Peron's widow, Isabel, president of Argentina in 1974-76 (see Peron). Elisabeth Domitien was premier of the Central African Republic in 1975-76. Margaret Thatcher, who first became prime minister of Great Britain in 1979, was the only person in the 20th century to be reelected to that office for a third consecutive term (see Thatcher). Also in 1979, Simone Weil of France became the first president of the European Parliament.

In the early 1980s Vigdis Finnbogadottir was elected president of Iceland Gro Harlem Brundtland, prime minister of Norway and Milka Planinc, premier of Yugoslavia. In 1986 Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines (see Aquino). From 1988 to 1990 Benazir Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan the first woman to head a Muslim nation (see Bhutto).

In 1990 Mary Robinson was elected president of Ireland and Violeta Chamorro, of Nicaragua. Australia's first female premier was Carmen Lawrence of Western Australia (1990), and Canada's was Rita Johnston of British Columbia (1991). In 1991 Khaleda Zia became the prime minister of Bangladesh and Socialist Edith Cresson was named France's first female premier. Poland's first female prime minister, Hanna Suchocka, was elected in 1992.

Feminist Philosophies

At the end of the 18th century, individual liberty was being hotly debated. In 1789, during the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges published a 'Declaration of the Rights of Woman' to protest the revolutionists' failure to mention women in their 'Declaration of the Rights of Man'. In 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792) Mary Wollstonecraft called for enlightenment of the female mind.

Margaret Fuller, one of the earliest female reporters, wrote 'Woman in the Nineteenth Century' in 1845. She argued that individuals had unlimited capacities and that when people's roles were defined according to their sex, human development was severely limited.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a leading theoretician of the women's rights movement. Her 'Woman's Bible', published in parts in 1895 and 1898, attacked what she called the male bias of the Bible. Contrary to most of her religious female colleagues, she believed further that organized religion would have to be abolished before true emancipation for women could be achieved. (See also Stanton, Elizabeth Cady.)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman characterized the home as inefficient compared with the mass-production techniques of the modern factory. She contended, in books like 'Women and Economics' (1898), that women should share the tasks of homemaking, with the women best suited to cook, to clean, and to care for young children doing each respective task.

Politically, many feminists believed that a cooperative society based on socialist economic principles would respect the rights of women. The Socialist Labor party, in 1892, was one of the first national political parties in the United States to include woman suffrage as a plank in its platform.

During the early 20th century the term new woman came to be used in the popular press. More young women than ever were going to school, working both in blue- and white-collar jobs, and living by themselves in city apartments. Some social critics feared that feminism, which they interpreted to mean the end of the home and family, was triumphing. Actually, the customary habits of American women were changing little. Although young people dated more than their parents did and used the automobile to escape parental supervision, most young women still married and became the traditional housewives and mothers.

Women in Reform Movements

Women in the United States during the 19th century organized and participated in a great variety of reform movements to improve education, to initiate prison reform, to ban alcoholic drinks, and, during the pre-Civil War period, to free the slaves.

At a time when it was not considered respectable for women to speak before mixed audiences of men and women, the abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke of South Carolina boldly spoke out against slavery at public meetings (see Grimke Sisters). Some male abolitionists including William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Frederick Douglass supported the right of women to speak and participate equally with men in antislavery activities. In one instance, women delegates to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840 were denied their places. Garrison thereupon refused his own seat and joined the women in the balcony as a spectator.

Some women saw parallels between the position of women and that of the slaves. In their view, both were expected to be passive, cooperative, and obedient to their master-husbands. Women such as Stanton, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth were feminists and abolitionists, believing in both the rights of women and the rights of blacks. (See also individual biographies.)

Many women supported the temperance movement in the belief that drunken husbands pulled their families into poverty. In 1872 the Prohibition party became the first national political party to recognize the right of suffrage for women in its platform. Frances Willard helped found the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (see Willard, Frances).

During the mid-1800s Dorothea Dix was a leader in the movements for prison reform and for providing mental-hospital care for the needy. The settlement-house movement was inspired by Jane Addams, who founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889, and by Lillian Wald, who founded the Henry Street Settlement House in New York City in 1895. Both women helped immigrants adjust to city life. (See also Addams Dix.)

Women were also active in movements for agrarian and labor reforms and for birth control. Mary Elizabeth Lease, a leading Populist spokeswoman in the 1880s and 1890s in Kansas, immortalized the cry, "What the farmers need to do is raise less corn and more hell." Margaret Robins led the National Women's Trade Union League in the early 1900s. In the 1910s Margaret Sanger crusaded to have birth-control information available for all women (see Sanger).

Fighting for the Vote

The first women's rights convention took place in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in July 1848. The declaration that emerged was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. Written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it claimed that "all men and women are created equal" and that "the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman." Following a long list of grievances were resolutions for equitable laws, equal educational and job opportunities, and the right to vote.

With the Union victory in the Civil War, women abolitionists hoped their hard work would result in suffrage for women as well as for blacks. But the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, adopted in 1868 and 1870 respectively, granted citizenship and suffrage to blacks but not to women.

Disagreement over the next steps to take led to a split in the women's rights movement in 1869. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a temperance and antislavery advocate, formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in New York. Lucy Stone organized the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. The NWSA agitated for a woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, while the AWSA worked for suffrage amendments to each state constitution. Eventually, in 1890, the two groups united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Lucy Stone became chairman of the executive committee and Elizabeth Cady Stanton served as the first president. Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw served as later presidents.

The struggle to win the vote was slow and frustrating. Wyoming Territory in 1869, Utah Territory in 1870, and the states of Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896 granted women the vote but the Eastern states resisted. A woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, presented to every Congress since 1878, repeatedly failed to pass.

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.

Karen Horney

Karen Horney was an influential ​neo-Freudian psychologist known for her take on feminine psychology. When Sigmund Freud famously proposed that women experience "penis envy," Horney countered that men suffer from "womb envy" and that all of their actions are driven by a need to overcompensate for the fact that they cannot bear children.  

Her outspoken refutation of Freud's ideas helped draw greater attention to the psychology of women. Her theory of neurotic needs and her belief that people were capable of taking a personal role in their own mental health were among her many contributions to the field of psychology.


Ancheta, Herminia M., and Michaela Gonzales. Filipino Women in Nation Building. Quezon City: Phoenix, 1984, pp. 248–249.

De los Reyes, J.P. "A Heroine of Ilocandia," in Chronicle Magazine. Vol. 18, no. 26. September 28, 1963.

Pagador, Flaviano R. "Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang, the Great Ilocano Heroine," in Ilocos Review. Vol. 2, no. 2, 1970.

Routledge, David. Diego Silang and the Origins of Philippine Nationalism. Quezon City: Philippine Center for Advanced Studies, 1979.

Simbulan, Clemente. "Women Patriots of Yesterday," in Filipina. Vol. 1, no. 22. November 1944.

Zaide, Gregorio. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde Bookstore, 1970, pp. 594–597.

Jaime B. Veneracion , chair of the Department of History, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

The National Woman Suffrage Association

In 1869, with slavery abolished, a rift developed in the suffrage movement over how to gain suffrage. Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and campaigned for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage in America, and for other women’s rights, such as changes in divorce laws and an end to employment and pay discrimination. Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Josephine Ruffin formed the less-radical American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to focus on obtaining suffrage for black men with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and on winning women’s right to vote state-by-state, ignoring the broader rights the NWSA was campaigning for.

By the 1880s, it became clear that the two organizations would be more effective if they merged back into one group, so they formed the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890, with Stanton as president and Anthony as vice president. Stanton’s position was largely honorary—she departed on a 2-year European speaking tour shortly after being elected, leaving Anthony as acting president. NAWSA was a national, parent organization to hundreds of local groups that campaigned solely for women’s right to vote. However, NAWSA alienated the more radical activists like Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Olympia Brown who were campaigning for broader rights along with the right to vote.

In the early 20th century, NAWSA restructured itself and shifted it’s tactics, recruiting celebrities to draw attention to the cause, allying with local women’s clubs and some labor unions, and raising money to train and pay organizers to canvass for votes and enlist new members. NAWSA held many parades and rallies to draw attention to their cause, with its members wearing white uniforms and carrying banners to draw crowds and reporters.

In 1914, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns became dissatisfied with the leadership and direction of the NWSA and formed the Congressional Union. Both women had assisted and learned from the British suffrage movement, which was much more radicalized and militant than the NWSA. England’s more militant suffragists faced violent confrontations with authorities and jail sentences some went on hunger strikes while imprisoned and were made to endure force-feedings to prevent them from dying behind bars, which might increase public sympathy for their cause.

The Congressional Union initially focused on putting pressure on the Democratic Party, which controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. In 1916, the organization was renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP) and began a more militant campaign for suffrage, picketing and holding demonstrations in front of the White House.

Carrie Chapman Catt, NAWSA president from 1900 to 1904 and 1915 to 1920, was Anthony’s hand-picked successor as the driving force of the organization. She led the final push toward a constitutional amendment, setting up a publicity bureau in Washington, D.C., in 1916 to exert immediate, face-to-face pressure on Congressmen. At the beginning of World War I, the NWP criticized the government for supporting democracy abroad while denying women the right to vote at home—blatant hypocrisy, in their view. Chapman Catt publicly distanced herself and NAWSA from the NWP, calling their behavior unladylike and disapproving of the bad publicity they generated for the movement. In June 1917, NWP members were arrested on the technical charge of obstructing traffic. Arrests and jail time, hunger strikes and force-feedings would continue for activists until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.

History Shorts: The Mother's Advice that Led to Women's Suffrage - HISTORY

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- Library Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a noted writer, lecturer, economist, and theorist who fought for women’s domestic rights and women’s suffrage in the early 1900s. Born in Hartford to Frederick Beecher Perkins and Mary Fitch Westcott Perkins, Charlotte Anna Perkins had one brother, Thomas Adie, 14 months her senior. Her great-grandfather on her father’s side was Dr. Lyman Beecher, the renowned Calvinist preacher. Especially proud of her family lineage, Gilman revered her great-aunts Harriet Beecher Stowe, the noted novelist Catherine Beecher, an advocate of higher education for women and Isabella Beecher Hooker, a leader in the demand for equal suffrage.

Her father abandoned the family when Charlotte was very young, and her mother moved often with her children from relative to relative, and they lived mostly in poverty. Gilman spent much of her youth in Providence, Rhode Island, and while she had very little formal education, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design for two years (1878-80) and supported herself there as an artist designing greeting cards.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Medical Crisis Inspires Social Activism

In 1884, at the age of 24, Gilman married aspiring artist Charles Walter Stetson and the following year bore their only child, Katharine Beecher Stetson. Soon after the birth, Gilman suffered from a serious bout of what today would be diagnosed as post-partum depression. While she had often been melancholy growing up, motherhood and married life pushed Gilman to the edge. She sought treatment for her “nervous prostration” with Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell of Philadelphia and in 1887 took the controversial “Rest Cure,” a treatment that included extensive bed rest, that he had pioneered. Gilman was fed, bathed, and massaged she responded well to treatment and after a month was sent home with the prescription to live as domestically as possible, keep her child with her at all times, lie down for one hour after each meal, and to never touch a pen, brush, or pencil for the rest of her life. Her depression returned, however, and soon after coming home Gilman separated from her husband of four years—such separation being a rare event in the 19th century. She later lamented, “It was not a choice between going and staying, but between going, sane, and staying, insane.”

After the separation in 1888 (they divorced in 1894), Gilman moved with her daughter to Pasadena, California, where she began her professional life writing plays and poetry as well as fiction and non-fiction works, some of which were published in progressive magazines. At the same time, Gilman became active in social reform movements and was an advocate of the Nationalist movement, which began with the publication of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888), a novel depicting a Socialist, Utopian future. She lectured and dedicated herself to feminism and social reform, believing that a purely domestic environment oppressed women, that men dominated women, and that motherhood should not prohibit a woman from working outside the home.

A Prolific Writer on Women’s Issues

In her famous treatise, Women and Economics (1898), Gilman theorized that women could never be truly independent until they first had economic freedom. While many of these themes were explored through her lectures and papers (Gilman produced more than a thousand works of non-fiction), they also permeated her fiction. In 1892, she published her now-famous semi-autobiographical story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Loosely based on the rest cure she received under Dr. Mitchell’s medical supervision, the story depicts a woman sent to “rest” in the bedroom of a rented summer home. The narrator’s husband, a physician, does not believe she is really ill and describes her malady as hysterical tendencies. The woman, however, descends into madness. While the story received mixed reviews, Gilman contended that her purpose in writing it was to reach Dr. Mitchell and show him the failure of his treatments. (She sent him a copy but never received a response.)

In 1894, Gilman sent her daughter to live with her ex-husband and his second wife, Grace Ellery Channing, a close friend of Gilman’s. This, like the separation and divorce beforehand, was not a common occurrence in the late-19th century, but Gilman held progressive views regarding paternal rights and believed that both Stetson and Katharine had the right to know one another. In 1900, Gilman married her first cousin, George Houghton Gilman. Over the next 25 years, Gilman wrote and published more than a dozen books and ran her own magazine, The Forerunner, in which many of her stories appeared. When George died suddenly in 1934, Gilman returned to California to be near her daughter.

Just two years earlier, in 1932, Gilman had discovered that she had inoperable breast cancer. An advocate of euthanasia, Gilman ended her life at the age of 75 with an overdose of chloroform, writing in her last letter that she “preferred chloroform to cancer.”

Gilman’s literary reputation declined in the years before her death, and her ideas regarding women’s roles seemed outmoded in the early 20th century. The advent of the women’s movement in the 1960s, however, brought about a revival of attention to her work. In 1993, a poll named Gilman the sixth most influential woman of the 20th century, and in 1994 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.

C. 1822: Tubman is born as Araminta "Minty" Ross in Maryland&aposs Dorchester County

Her parents, Ben Ross and Harriet "Rit" Green, are both enslaved, meaning Ross had the same status at birth.

Though her birthdate has often been listed as around 1820, a record from March 1822 lists that a midwife had been paid for tending to Green, which suggests the birth may have taken place in February or March of that year.

c. 1828: Tubman is about five or six years old when her enslavers hire her out to tend to an infant. She is whipped for any perceived mistakes.

c. 1829: Around the age of seven, Tubman is again hired out. Her duties include walking into wet marshes to check muskrat traps. She becomes ill with measles and returns to her mother to recover.

c. 1834-36: An overseer throws a two-pound weight at another slave but hits Tubman&aposs head. She barely survives the devastating injury and experiences headaches for the remainder of her life. It&aposs possible this injury led to her suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy, which could explain her visions and sleeping spells.

c. 1835: Tubman works as a field hand, which she prefers to inside tasks.

c. 1830s: Two of Tubman&aposs older sisters are sold and transported out of Maryland.

1840: Tubman&aposs father is freed from slavery.

1844: She weds John Tubman, a free Black man, though her status as a slave means the union is not legally recognized. Upon marriage, Tubman adopts her mother&aposs name of Harriet.

March 7, 1849: Tubman&aposs owner dies, which makes her fear being sold.

September 17, 1849: Tubman heads north with two of her brothers to escape slavery. However, the men become nervous and convince their sister to return.

Lawson, Louisa (1848–1920)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Louisa Lawson (1848-1920), newspaper proprietor, was born on 17 February 1848 on Edwin Rouse's station, Guntawang, near Mudgee, New South Wales, second of twelve children of Henry Albury, station-hand, and his wife Harriet, née Winn, needlewoman. Baptized an Anglican, Louisa was educated at Mudgee National School where J. W. Allpass proposed making her a pupil-teacher. Instead, she was kept home to help to care for her younger siblings and she resented the drudgery. On 7 July 1866 at the Wesleyan parsonage, Mudgee, Louisa married Norwegian-born Niels Hertzberg Larsen who called himself Peter. A handyman and gold digger, he was fluent in several European languages and teetotal. They joined the Weddin Mountain gold rush and later selected forty acres (16 ha) at Eurunderee. By the time of Henry's birth in 1867, they had anglicized the spelling of Larsen.

Between 1867 and 1877 Louisa bore five children. Peter was often away, either at the goldfields or contract building with his father-in-law Louisa took in sewing, sold dairy produce and fattened cattle. She was an expert four-in-hand driver. The women in her family believe that she was the original for the hard-working, resourceful, kindly and long-suffering bushwomen who feature in her son's stories. The Lawsons joined a Mudgee spiritualist group. Louisa had had a strict Methodist upbringing and though she ceased to attend church she remained deeply religious. When she and the children moved to Sydney in 1883, she found friends through the Progressive Spiritualist Lyceum at Leigh House. She kept up a pretence of being separated from her husband by misfortune, but the marriage had ended.

Peter sent money irregularly to help to support the children and Louisa considered taking legal action. Instead she did sewing and washing and took in boarders. In 1887 she bought the ailing Republican (1887-88). Her father though illiterate was a great story-teller. She shared that talent and her poetry, inspired by the death of her infant daughter, had been published in the Mudgee Independent. She and Henry edited and wrote most of the Republican's copy using 'Archie Lawson' for editorial purposes. In 1888 she started Dawn, announcing that it would publicize women's wrongs, fight their battles and sue for their suffrage. It offered household advice, fashion, poetry, a short story and extensive reporting of women's activities both locally and overseas. Louisa added a political editorial on the importance to women of the divorce extension bill. Dawn was an immediate commercial success. On 31 December 1888 Peter died, leaving £1103 to Louisa. She enlarged her printing plant and accepted job printing. In 1889 Mrs Lawson was employing ten women, including female printers.

The New South Wales Typographical Association, which refused membership to women, tried to force Mrs Lawson to dismiss her printers. It appealed to advertisers to boycott Dawn and harassed the women at their work. Louisa countered with a proclamation of her support for trade unionism. In a different context she advocated the protection of a union for married women and crèches for the benefit of the overworked mothers of large families and those forced to take paid employment. Her practical philanthropy included the Sydney Ragged Schools for which she organized the collection of old clothes and the seeds, bulbs and a prize for a floral competition.

In May 1889 Louisa launched the campaign for female suffrage and announced the formation of the Dawn Club. Who ordained that men only should make the laws which both women and men must obey, she asked, but her case rested on more than abstract justice. Woman's vote was needed to change evil laws and to protect women and their children. At the Dawn Club women met regularly to discuss 'every question of life, work and reform' and to gain experience in public speaking she persuaded the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts' debating clubs to admit her and encouraged other women to join. In 1893 she became the first woman elected to its board of management. Through Dawn she created the public knowledge of women's affairs which helped to move opinion towards enfranchising women. She revealed the instances where the law failed to protect them or where by other means they were prevented from making a reasonable living. She blamed prostitution on men and evil laws and urged parents to equip daughters to earn their living and not keep them at home as unpaid domestic labour. In editorials she presented feminist arguments for opening the legal profession to women, appointing them as prison warders, factory inspectors and magistrates, and giving hospital appointments to female doctors. She added advice on health and the care of children, stressing diet, rest and exercise, and in her fashion page and paper pattern service encouraged women to dress sensibly but attractively. Dawn had an extensive country readership and intercolonial and overseas subscribers. It was in regular communication with English and American feminists.

When Mrs Dora Montefiore formed the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales in 1891, Louisa was invited to join and was elected to its council. She allowed it to use Dawn's office for meetings and printed its literature free of charge. She frequently spoke at league meetings and although she had enormous energy she was reported in need of a rest by the end of the year. About this time her relationship with Henry became strained although his first volume of verse was published on the Dawn press in 1894. She was a savage critic of drunkenness.

Again busy in the campaign in 1892, Louisa was a member of the league's delegation to the premier in October. Her outburst that women needed the vote 'to redeem the world from bad laws passed by wicked men' was unfavourably reported in the press. She was again exhausted and took a well-earned holiday. The failure of the Australian Joint Stock Bank caused her some financial difficulty but Dawn survived. She was drawn into the dispute in the league over allowing speeches on subjects other than the suffrage at its meetings. When her friend Lady Windeyer was outvoted and resigned as president, Louisa in December 1893 withdrew from its council. Although she gave as her reason her recent move to Tempe, she had wept on hearing of the president's resignation. She remained a financial member of the league and continued to do its printing and supply publicity in Dawn.

In 1895 and 1897 Mrs Lawson took out a miner's right, presumably to demonstrate an inconsistency in the electoral law. At the celebratory meeting after women were enfranchised in New South Wales in 1902, she was publicly acclaimed as the originator of the suffrage campaign. She had become involved in protracted legal proceedings in an attempt to protect a patent which she had taken out on a mailbag fastener and for which she was meagrely compensated. She was thrown from a tram and suffered a fractured knee and injured her spine in 1900, taking over a year to recover, but in 1902 she was again active politically. On the council of the Women's Progressive Association she resumed her campaign to secure appointment of women to public office.

Following her accident she lost some of the vitality and inventiveness which had helped to make Dawn a success. Her friend Mrs E. J. Todd, who had been one of her journalists, remembered her as 'so full of original ideas that she always seemed to have plenty to spare for others'. Novelties disappeared from Dawn and there were fewer lively short-paragraph news items. Advertising fell away and in 1905 Dawn closed.

Afterwards Louisa lived in lonely and increasingly impoverished circumstances. She secured a publisher for two volumes of verse and sold a few poems and a number of short stories. She enjoyed her garden in which she had planted natives. Her 'Dolley Dear' poems capture the humour and warmth of the old woman's love for children. Louisa died in the Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville, on 12 August 1920. She had been living alone before being admitted in 1918, her memory failing but still strong willed. She was buried with Methodist forms in the Anglican section of Rookwood cemetery. Her estate, valued for probate at £629, was left to her son Peter who was father of nine of her beloved grandchildren.

A block of Housing Commission flats at North Bondi was named after her in 1952. In most surviving photographs, she is stern faced. Big-boned, as befitted a countrywoman, she is to be remembered for her reply to the editor of the Bulletin's 'Red Page': 'And why shouldn't a woman be tall and strong?'.

What was the Second Wave Feminist Movement?

Today, feminism is an ideology/theory that most people fail to understand fully. Feminism has been described as having three separate waves. The First Wave Feminist Movement started in the mid-19th Century and culminated with the women's suffrage movement. 2nd wave feminism started in the late 1950s moved into the 1980s. Finally, Third Wave feminism is bit more nebulous and less defined. It essentially started with the Anita Hill hearings before the Senate Judiciary Hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and "the riot grrl groups in the music scene of the early 1990s." Kimberle Crenshaw and Judith Butler were the intellectual theorists who helped ground the movement and incorporate intersectionality and embrace transgender rights. [1]

Historians and feminist/gender scholars describe today’s feminist theory, ideology, and social/political movement as the Third Wave of feminism. The ‘’second wave’’ of feminism started after the women were forced out of the workplace after the end of World War Two and essentially ended with the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Second-wave feminism splintered after criticism grew that the movement had focused on white women to the exclusion of everyone else.

Fred Schlafly supported his wife’s political goals

“Phyllis” suggests that Schlafly took up the cause of defeating the ERA because her ambition of holding elected office had been thwarted. Her husband, Fred (John Slattery), discourages her from a third run for Congress because he is concerned about her being away from home. “They’re making him [out] to be less supportive of her political goals than I believe he was. I think generally speaking they were two peas in a pod,” Spruill said.

(For what it’s worth, Schlafly’s daughter, Anne Schlafly Cori, also has pushed back against the series’ portrayal of her parents’ marriage, particularly a scene that she says portrays him as a rapist. “My father loved the success that Phyllis achieved and Fred Schlafly liked to quip, ‘I regret that I have but one wife to give to my country,’” she said in an email.)

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Meredith Blake is an entertainment reporter for the Los Angeles Times based out of New York City, where she primarily covers television. A native of Bethlehem, Pa., she graduated from Georgetown University and holds a master’s degree from New York University.



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