Women's Suffrage Essay

1203 words - 5 pages

Throughout history women have often, if not always, been second-best to men. Women have frequently been denied the rights and opportunities that men have had. For years a women’s only role was to stay home and care for the family. This belief became widely popular in the “cult of domesticity” movement in the 1800’s. The cult of domesticity was the belief that women should stay home as ‘moral guardians’ of family life. They were expected to be weak, nurturing, and selfless (2). Many women opposed this belief, and started to fight for equality. The Women’s suffrage movement helped bring many changes to society’s view of women and their rights.
The campaign for women’s suffrage began in the ...view middle of the document...

In the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing, women were receiving a better education, and they were more prevalent in the workforce. In 1913 The National Women’s party organized the voting power of women to elect congressional representatives who supported woman’s suffrage, and by 1916 both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement (3). In 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment, which stated that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification (1). On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it official throughout the country. Eight days later, the Nineteenth Amendment took effect (3). On August 18, 1920 women took a big step towards having the same rights as men.
Decades earlier, congress ratified the fifteenth amendment, which states that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (5). Women were excluded from this, because the 15th amendment defined “citizens” as “male” (3). The Nineteenth Amendment had a big influence on the United States. If women today could not vote, then they would still be looked at as property and not as full citizens. When women could not vote, that left the men to vote. Because men were the only ones that were allowed to vote women had no say in how their community was shaped or governed. Allowing women to vote gave them the right to be viewed as little more equal to men.
The Amendment allowed women to help elect progressive policy makers, who in turn enacted policies to benefit women. Policies made between 1920 and 1965 improved reproductive rights and economic circumstances for women. Birth control, for example, was made available and affordable so women could easily access it. Additionally, as women increasingly entered higher education and the workforce, salaries increased for women, and the wage gap narrowed (6).
The women’s suffrage movement also changed women’s image. They were no longer only the guardians of the household. In the 1920’s a “new woman” was created. She smoked, drank, danced and voted. She cut her hair and wore make-up. She took risks. She was known as a...

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