They would live their lives according to the rules and standards that society had set for them. From childhood they were only taught how to cook and clean, how to keep a house in order, and how to care for children. Education wasn’t an option and they were often shamed if they spoke out; in other words their opinions were meaningless. It seems that the female gender has come a long way in history, but it took many brave women to stand up and take radical steps to change the future for the upcoming generations.
For women in the 1860s through the 1920s, the American Dream of equal treatment and the right to vote seemed to be a myth due to the strong male opposition throughout the workforce, the political field, and even the home; however, all the efforts that the brave women who spoke out and worked towards equality and suffrage soon paid off to make their dream a reality through the right to keep and earn profit from their working land and the 19th amendment being added to the Constitution.
Our country is based on the promise that our founders wrote in the constitution; they stated that all men are created equal. However this constitution was written by men and as we read it we may notice that it was directed for the men as well. The female gender was probably the last thing on their mind when it came to writing about the rights that should be kept and respected. Women at the time were not taken in consideration. What they felt or the way they should be treated was not a concern to the founders.
Women were tired of being ignored, they had spent enough time in the kitchen and were ready to step out and take a hold of their lifestyles. They wanted to show men that they were intelligent and deserved to be treated as equal citizens. They came together and did just as the men had done, they listed their rights and what they felt should be given to them as citizens. In order to achieve what they wanted they took the laws and documents that men had set up and restructured them to make them as equal as they could. One of the documents that they took into revision was the Declaration of Independence.
They copied what the framers had written and rewrote it to include themselves in it, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Stanton). By choosing a document as important as the Declaration of Independence, they declared war on the oppression they were being put through.
They took a leap of bravery and stood up by using one of the most valued and respected set of law. The Declaration of Independence was a sign of victory to the Americans, and by replicating it they were pointing out that it was time to share the victory. Equality was their goal and they weren’t going to stand up to anything less than that. The question was where and how much equality was enough. Would the standards of equality only apply to the home? No. Women wanted equality in every aspect of the word. The American men however were not happy with this dream.
They could not accept the idea of being seen or competing with women on the same level. In fact many women were often put down and shamed if she shared her dreams and hope for equality, “He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life” (Stanton). In the male’s point of view, women were not capable of being on the same level as them; therefore there was no point in giving them equality. The idea of equality was specially ignored when it came to married women.
The society, at that time, had been taught that the man had the last word in the home. The ideology was that the success of the home would be only because of the hard work of the man in charge, and that the female gender only had one place where they belonged which was in the home. Women knew that the success of their home was a shared success and they wanted to be recognized for this, “ They wanted wives to have equal rights with husbands and recognition for their work as homemakers, as well as the chance to have an independent role outside marriage” ( Macdonald 24) .
Marriage was the only option these ladies had, by dreaming of equality they were also dreaming about and endless path of new open doors. They would no longer be only strained to a future in marriage but with this dream in their hands, they could achieve anything they could dream of, and receive as much recognition as they deserved. People often dream of owning a home where they can spend their days and raise their family. However until the Late 1890s and early 1900s women were not allowed to own or keep profit on farming land. Women were usually under the control of a male figure.
They would be given a home where they would work on the land but never keep any of the profit. Depending of the area of the country they lived in they would be given different responsibilities. This had to do because of the stereotypical lives people lived by, each differencing from each other. The western part of the country gave more freedom to females; however the eastern part of the country often had more restrictions on the average women. After many years of working for no real compensation, women began protesting for their right to earn and keep the profits they made from their land.
In the western area of the country the right to have their independent land came first, “By 1890 a quarter of a million women were running their own ranches or farms” (Macdonald 38). By allowing women to own and keep their land, they were giving them the right to be an equal and independent part of society. They would no longer be tied down to the earnings they would be given but instead allowed to be responsible for their own living. This privilege took the time but eventually was extended to the rest of the country, “By 1900 women had won the right to own property and keep the earnings” (Macdonald 39).
Women were now part of the economic society. They began playing a bigger role in the country’s economic stability. It was a big part of their dream and with countless hours of protest and many hours in courts their privilege as a citizen was extended. In the era we live in, we see more and more women succeeding in what was once considered and only male success area. By fighting for their rights, women were fighting for the opportunity to be more than just a stay-at- home wife, they were fighting for the chance to be independent. They wanted to be able to work and be treated just as equally as men were .
Many jobs would often turn their backs on a woman who wanted an opportunity to succeed. Equality in the workforce included the opportunity to fair competition for work openings and to receive an equal pay, meaning that regardless of the gender the job would pay the same wage. Due to the hard economic times, women would have to find and take any job that would available to her, but it usually wasn’t a high paying respected job, “He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself” (Stanton).
Women were tired of being denied the right to descent jobs. They felt that they should be given a fair opportunity to any job position, not just the ones that men didn’t want to occupy or were often shorthanded on. Aside from the lack of availability when it came to job openings, they had to deal with the constant reduction in payment. The way the work industries saw it, women didn’t need to be paid as much as a man, and women had had enough with the injustice, “I feel that if I have to answer for the deeds done in my body just as much as a man, I have a right to have just as much as a man” (Truth).
The typical working women would spend many laborious hours at a low paying job, and then she would take her place in the home by taking on many responsibilities that would leave her exhausted. In the work area she would be demanded to do a quality job, and at home she had certain standards which she had to follow; and even though she gave all her effort into succeeding she would still be demeaned with a low paycheck and no appreciation at home. Women often had to find different ways to support their families due to unexpected situations, but the stubbornness of men often made this task very difficult.
Because of the struggles that came along with the fight for independence, many women often accepted the oppression; however the opposition that came their way fueled many other women to fight even more against all odds. As we take a look at the history of the nations we can see that a country with a strong political team is a country that is destined for success. The political field was a battlefield designed only for men; however women were breaking all other barriers and decided to add another level where they wanted to succeed.
Before women began speaking up about what they felt, they had no say in any political affair, “In the courts women have no right, no voice” (Truth). Women often were spoken for by their father, husband, or some sort of male representative. This led to them never really being treated or given just protection. We also have to point out how the constant disregard of women’s opinion had no preference, it didn’t matter if she was married or not; she was constantly reminded that her voice had no meaning, “he has made her if married in the eye of the law , civilly dead” (Stanton).
She stood up for her right, but was faced with the harsh reality that in that era her gender meant more than anything. Their dream was to be independent to be seen as an equal but this dream seemed to be impossible due to the invariable superior attitude that they were put through, it often made them feel like there was no point in fighting. Nevertheless they continued to work hard and kept working on uniting and fighting until they reached their goals. The way a country flows is the responsibility of the people.
When the founders of our country were structuring the way our society should be lead, they chose to give the average citizen a critical role in democracy; they decided to give each citizen a voice. This role was known as voting, and at first it was only extended to the male citizen. The fact that the right to vote was being denied to women, motivated them to work even more towards accomplishing their dream, “during the 19th century, as male suffrage was gradually extended in many countries, women became increasingly active in the quest for their own” ( “Suffrage, Women’s”) .
Women wanted to have a say in how their country was being lead. They wanted to have leaders that would help their causes, leaders who would fight for their dreams; but it was impossible for their ideas to be heard unless they could vote. Women all over the country took measures into their hands by meeting regularly to keep their focus on the right path, organizing peaceful protest, and with voting demonstrations. Some of the most known women recognized for their leadership were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott.
These women were the main authors of the Declaration of Sentiments and lead the Seneca Falls Conference. They took it upon themselves to represent the millions of women who wanted their voice to be heard, “Stanton and Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association to work for suffrage on the federal level and to press for more extensive institutional changes, such as the granting of property rights to married women” (“Suffrage, women’s”). Their hard work is one of the main reasons the women’s dream became a success. They knew what they wanted and they stuck to it until they had achieved exactly what they wanted and more.
From as far back in history as we look, females and males have very different standards when it comes to their lifestyles. It is common to hear parents pushing their son towards sports and more coarse jobs; on the other hand we find parents pushing their daughter towards hobbies such as dance and art and to pursue more suitable job for females. From a young age girls are taught how to clean and cook, because this is what is common; but we have come a long way in history because nowadays we aren’t restricted to following the traditional role for women.
But during the suffrage movement they didn’t have the luxury of choosing the type of lifestyle they wanted to live. Society had already chosen for them, “they believed that happy families were the basis of a well-run society” (Macdonald 24). Girls were often pressured into marriage, because of the stereotypical lifestyle that was set out for in regards to what a successful woman should be. They often married young and began a family while living a perfectly silent life. She didn’t speak out about her disappointments or the conflicts that may come her way.
It is common for people to say that you can’t really appreciate many things in life unless you’ve contributed or put in your hard effort. This is very much true when it comes to appreciating the rights and liberties we have as women today. We are no longer faced with as many barriers to slow us down. The workforce area is now an open field for anyone. People now look at what really counts your abilities and preparations instead of your gender. The prejudice had slowly faded away allowing more and more women to succeed in many unexpected levels.
What once was a dream has now become a living reality. It took many years and plenty of unrecognized effort but in time it paid off. It all started with people standing up for what they believed, “as male suffrage was gradually extended in many countries, women became increasingly active in the quest for their own suffrage” (“Suffrage, women’s”). As more and more women joined the cause, more progress was made. Women all over the country began demanding the right to vote, to be seen as equal citizens, and to receive as much recognition as they deserved.
Their actions also inspired other minorities and groups who aspired and hoped to achieved their dreams. Their fight was too important and too big to be ignored, “It had a slogan ‘Men their rights and nothing more; Women their rights and nothing less”’ (Macdonald 23). The indifference from men was not enough to bring women down, they had begun a race against oppression and they were determined to win. Considering how much time and effort women all over the country had given, in order to achieve their dream, we must recognize how much of an impact it made for the generations that followed after their time.
Without their efforts we may of still be living in a society where our voices would be meaningless, in a society where we would only have one future, where the only education we would be given would be on how to keep a house running. As we compare the type of type of lives we have now to the way people lived before we can easily see how much of an impact their efforts made, “The struggle for women’s rights is a worldwide revolution that is transforming the way human beings live” (Barry). The change that was brought on by the success of their dream affected not only the female population but also the male population.
Men were forced to accept women as equals and to give them as much credit and opportunity as they were given. The change wasn’t accepted with open arms, and it’s taken many years for the change to fully settle in. The indifference from men was not enough to bring women down, they had begun a race against oppression and they were determined to win. One of the best feelings in life is the feeling of victory. For many women the reward of their efforts took too long, but the feeling of freedom and equality was worth the wait.
Women were finally on the same level as men on every level. They no longer needed to depend on a male figure to survive. Women were finally given the opportunity of independence by being allowed to work equally as any male, by being able to own and keep the earnings off their land. For married women, the responsibility, work, and recognition of keeping the land fertile and the home running was now shared with her husband. Furthermore women were now considered equal citizens, “On August 26,1920th the 19th Amendment granted the ballot to the American women” (“Suffrage, women’s”).
Their opinions would now have value, and they would be able to make choices based on what they felt would benefit the future female populations. They could no longer be told that they had no say in what was done in their country because by law they were now equal citizens. The American Woman has come a long way, she has travelled a long journey, and she has fought a demanding battle, but she can finally rest knowing that she has changed the future for the better. Women all over the United States stood up, united with one cause; and to them we owe them our freedom and opportunities.
They saved many generations from oppressions, gave us the opportunity to live a free life, to be able to choose our paths without the fear of being shamed. We can succeed in anything we set our minds to. They didn’t let the male opposition stop them from making their dream a reality. We must live our lives with pride and with our success we can keep reliving their victory Works Cited Barry, Kathleen L. “Women’s Rights. ” Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 12 April 2012 Barry’s article on women’s rights is a very extensive and well written. It provides broad information on varying subjects affecting women worldwide.
I used many quotes from it dealing with women and how male opposition made her quest for the American Dream much more difficult. Barry explained how women were put down, abused, and stripped from their natural rights. Macdonald, Fiona. Women in 19-th century America. New York Peter Derick Books, 1999 Print This book helped explained how women progressed throughout varying fields even against the wave of opposition that came her way. It gives much information on how women were struggling to be treated equally. How they wanted to be valued by the work they did and not by their gender.