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The Women's Rights Movement Essay

1388 words - 6 pages

The Women's Rights Movement was a significant crusade for women that began in the late nineteenth century and flourished throughout Europe and the United States for the rest of the twentieth century. Advocates for women's rights initiated this movement as they yearned for equality and equal participation and representation in society. Throughout all of history, the jobs of women ranged from housewives to factory workers, yet oppression by society, particularly men, accompanied them in their everyday lives. Not until the end of the nineteenth century did women begin to voice their frustrations about the inequalities among men and women, and these new proclamations would be the basis for a society with opportunities starting to open for women. The supporters of women's rights strived for voting rights, equal pay in jobs, no job discrimination, and other privileges that would put them on the same level as men in both society and in the workplace. Starting with the Seneca Falls Declaration in 1848 and continuing through the twentieth century with documents like the United Nations Declaration of Women's Rights, women became significant leaders that aided in the advancement of twentieth century life and society.

The first well-known quest for women's rights began in Seneca Falls, New York, on July19, 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a women's conference in hopes of discussing the role of women in society and establishing a sense of what women would need to do to overcome the barriers they had faced for several centuries. Stanton and another supporter, Lucretia Mott, developed the Seneca Falls Declaration as a document that would highlight the discrimination that women had endured for hundreds of years. They hoped that this would attract the attention of both men and women by detailing how women had been discriminated for years and how this was going to change. The declaration states that men have had "absolute tyranny" over women throughout all of history, and it is this idea that has prevented the progression of women's abilities an talents.1 The declaration continues to say that women have been robbed of their inalienable rights, rights to hold property, representation in government, an education, job opportunities, and many other rights that have only been applicable to men in the past.2 The ideas and concepts suggested in the Seneca Falls Declaration evoked strong feelings of equality among women, and it also sparked anger amongst men.

As women began to approach the idea of women's rights for the first time, many men revealed their strong opposition to equality based on the feeling that women were inferior to men. One such opposer to women's rights, Francis Parkman, believed that women should not have the same voting rights as men. He believed this simply because "the physical and mental constitution of women is more delicate than in the other sex," therefore suggesting that they are not able to handle the "harsh conflicts" of the...

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