The Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, federal and state, from denying citizens the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Nevertheless, this amendment still did not give women the right to vote. Gender equality in current times is an essential part to the modern democratic government. Under international standards, both men and women should have equal opportunities to participate in the political process. However throughout history, women, the numerical majority, were neither encouraged nor allowed to participate in the United States political process through political attitudes and institutions. Women gained momentum for the women’s rights movement, their struggle for suffrage and equality, through their ability to bring their differentiating views together to work towards one goal.
According to the Struggle for Democracy by Edward Greenberg and Benjamin Page (2012, p. 232), in February of 1838 Angela Grimke presented a petition against slavery and became the first woman to speak before an American legislative body. Women were not given any leisure to speak publicly. They did not have the rights that men had in the political process. Women as a whole, African Americans and whites, were expected to reproduce and not engage in the political process. African American women did the same work as the men, picked cotton, worked long hours in the field, but were raped as a punishment in attempt to control there bodies as well as reproduce babies who were seen as property. White working class women were allowed to work and earn money for their family, but they were not allowed to be the primary wage earner in the household. Women of middle to upper class were discouraged and prohibited from public participation even though some of them managed to become educated.
Women of different races and classes were subject to different concerns. According to Angela Davis’s Woman, Race & Class (1981) White upper-middle class women were concerned with the institution of marriage. They compared it to slavery in a sense that they worked without wages, relied on a master, and endured beatings. I felt that marriage was not as severe as the institution of slavery, but nevertheless marriage was a form of slavery. Women from land owning families also saw themselves leaving factories when the job became harsh and unsafe. At that point, immigrant women were taking over their jobs. Even though some women were beginning to engage in the fight for equal rights, they all had their differences. Some were more privileged then others but overall they were all treated the same by the government and most men in the same unfair and unjust way. Women were given minimum rights in the United States government.
Davis also says (p. 41), Angela Grimke understood that without the abolishment of slavery, women could not gain equal rights and vice versa. However, when women tried to engage in political work,...