Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Your World Without Feminism: Voting


Not sure about how much feminism relates to your life? Let’s take a look at some of the things that wouldn’t exist without feminism.

Without feminism, there would be no…

Right to Vote: Until 1920, it was legal for women to be denied the right to vote because they were women. In the late 1800’s, only four states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho) allowed women full voting privileges. Several other states allowed women to vote only on specific items; for instance, some states allowed women the vote for school-related issues (this was thought to be okay because women were mothers, and the education of their children was a primary concern of theirs) and some states allowed tax-paying women to vote on tax issues. Many people against women’s right to vote argued that women were not as smart as men and that it would be pointless to let them vote on things they knew nothing about.
But why would women feel the need to educate themselves on issues that they couldn’t vote on?
Of course, some women were very interested in politics and took it upon themselves to educate themselves, but the argument against women’s suffrage relied heavily upon the fact that the institutions in place ensured that women were less educated than men. Susan B. Anthony, ones of the most famous early feminists and suffragettes, was arrested in 1872 (almost fifty years before women were given the right to vote!) for illegally voting in the presidential election. According to her, she had the right to vote because the 14th amendment did not specify gender in its requirements for citizenship. Despite losing in trial, Susan B. Anthony was able to present her case for women’s suffrage to a captive audience. In 1920, the 19th amendment gave all women full voting rights.

You might not be old enough to vote yet, but you can someday! Since my 18th birthday, I’ve voted in 2 elections. Without feminism, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Reading about women’s suffrage when I was younger was actually what got me into learning more about feminism.

Want to learn more? http://www.winningthevote.org/index.html has lots of information about the movement, biographies of suffragists, and information about related websites, books, and movies about women’s suffrage.
Want to see more? Iron Jawed Angels is a 2004 movie produced by HBO loosely based on the lives and struggles of suffragettes in the crucial years preceding the passage of the 19th amendment.

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