Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sentimental Journey

It has been a long journey since the women's movement first started in America, and we're not there yet -- on an even keel with men.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of four women instrumental in the 1848 Women's Rights Convention and was the principal writer of the resulting document. The meeting focused on political, religious and social rights of women. It seems the founding fathers forgot that women are people, too, and laws of the day enabled the subordination of women. Taxes without representation. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

The Declaration of Sentiments, using the Declaration of Independence as a model, included a list of sixteen sentiments. Each began with 'he' meaning men and 'her' or 'she' meaning women. Their intention was to fold women into the 'created equal' sentiment outlined when the country was born, this country of freedom, opport
unity, and equality.
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.
Have we made progress on this sentiment in the past 159 years? Well, I think she has equal opportunity to be hired, legally, though not necessarily in practice. Equal pay for equal work? Again, legally, that was addressed in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, but in 2005, 42 years after passage, women made an average of 77 cents for every dollar men are paid. Seems a bit scanty to me.

Read through the list and judge our progress to date. There are some eye openers.

The meeting was for women, but some men attended anyway. More than 60 women signed the declaration, but 32 men were courageous enough to support and sign it, too. Read the list of signers.

The convention was held in Stanton's home town, Seneca Falls, New York. Seneca Falls is now home to the Women's Rights National Historical Park. It was the site chosen to introduce the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.

The convention and the declaration challenged mores of the day, but did not immediately convince the traditional society to change its ways. It did, however, bring attention to the disparity between men and women in legal, educational, and social rights. The Feminist Movement was born.

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