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Power Of Women Essay

1363 words - 6 pages

Women have found power in a variety of ways though out history in their struggle towards justice and equality. Though personal power can take many forms this paper will primarily focus on power found through gender solidarity, class issues, race or sexuality. I intend to examine the ways in which three different women, of different races and times in history, were able to find such power resulting in a positive change to either their own lives or the lives of others. Those women are: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt and Melba Beals.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton found power through gender solidarity. She was a true feminist concerned with not just suffrage but total equality for the ...view middle of the document...

After helping her husband to get elected into the office of President of the United States, she fundamentally transformed the role of the first lady. Where her predecessors were content to stay behind the scenes and tend to domestic matters, she was not. Roosevelt spoke out for an abundance of causes including women’s rights, poverty, discrimination, children’s issues and foreign affairs. Being the President’s wife came with certain privileges and she utilized them on several occasions to further her agendas. According to an article in Women’s America “ER increasingly bypassed State Department restrictions; she worked, often covertly, with private groups and individuals. She campaigned for a less restrictive refugee policy, pursed visas for individuals, and answered and passed on to government officials every appeal sent to her” (Kerber 532). Being of the highest possible social class, Roosevelt found power in her status and leveraged it to further her own itinerary.
Selecting from only the above mentioned forms of personal power, I must argue that Melba Beals found power threw race. She used her race, or at least attempted to, to gain equal access to a higher quality of education and educational resources. The white students also used their race to gain access to such an education. The difference was that the white students were born with the skin color that came with those opportunities. This was their white privilege. If all students, regardless of race, were provided the option to attend either the prestigious Central High School or the impoverished Horace Mann High School, it is likely that none of them would have chosen to go the latter. Unfortunately, race was a factor and the white students were assigned the better of the two opportunities based solely on their skin color. Beals was not born with such privilege. Her skin color assigned her to the lesser of the two educational opportunities. When the prospect came for her to gain access to the esteemed education she so desired based primarily on her race she took advantage of the opportunity. When the schools were closed and it became evident that they would not reopen, her access to the better educational opportunity was closed as well. From this, a new prospect arose for her to relocate to California for another chance at a better life. This opportunity would have never presented itself if she had never changed schools. All of her future successes were a result of her decision to take advantage of one unlikely opportunity: to use her skin color to her advantage in the pursuit of equality.
I would also argue that Melba Beals real power is found in her strength, positive attitude and perseverance. Beal lived through and witnessed countless unrelenting hardships and acts of racism – which is something Stanton and Roosevelt did not have to endure as they were white women. Although Beals family lived in a legally segregated town, Beals was quick to learn that injustice was all around her...

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