History of Women in America
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Throughout much of the history of women in America, women were mostly confined to the kinds of domestic roles encouraged by traditional Protestant values. The women’s suffrage movement began with the National Convention of the Liberty Party in 1948. This was founded on a platform of greater socio-economic equality. With that, Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined with Lucretia Mott and other women to organize the Seneca Falls Convention. Here, women proclaimed a Declaration of Sentiments that demanded equal rights for women, especially the right to vote. Many of these leaders had become politically aware with the rise of abolitionism, which seeded the same sentiments for women’s rights. As the movement campaigned in support of prohibition, several western states granted women full voting rights by the end of the 19th century.
The feminist movement renewed its demands for equality and argued that the corruption of American politics required the moral superiority of women to clean it up. On the other hand, a male reactionary argument asserted that since only men could fight a war, only men deserved the right to vote. This was proved quite wrong by the enthusiastic support of tens of thousands of women on America’s home front in World War I. Many women filled jobs and other responsibilities vacated by men who had left to fight in the war. But the main resistance came from the South, where white men anguished over the threat of black women voting. For Congress had passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, giving women the right to vote.
In the 1960s, a new feminist movement arose in response to continuing and pervasive gender inequity, but it failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Still, women continue to achieve in the 21st century greater socio-economic equality and greater levels of political participation. This became especially true with the election of Kamala Harris as America’s first female vice president.
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Women in the American Revolution
Gender Roles: Cult of Domesticity