Politics, United States

Seneca Falls: The Beginning of Women’s Rights Movements

Seneca Falls site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in the US (wikipedia)

Do you ever wonder how women got their right to vote? How women got to the point they are in society today? Women’s rights have grown tremendously over time and are still improving today. Throughout history women have been fighting their equality such as right to vote, social status, and many other rights in our society. Students even get to create clubs dedicated to supporting women and their rights. There are many events that have taken place in history and recently that have shown the strength that women have during protest. Seneca Falls directly relates to today’s women’s rights movement such as global Women’s March in January and the Women in the Military Law in 2016.

Seneca Falls was the first women’s convention in history. Before the convention, women weren’t respected in society and they did not have the right to vote. Women in the 1800’s had limited choices and many obligations made by the men in their lives. Many scholars compare the treatment of women in this time to the treatment of slaves. When a woman was married, all of her inheritance belonged to her husband. The man had the right to everything, even the woman’s body. It was not until 1891 that a woman could even get a divorce and if the woman was caught fleeing from her household, she would be captured and punished by the law. There were even classes of woman. If you were a lower class woman it was almost impossible to get a job and most had to resort to prostitution. Many woman were fed up with this treatment and decided to come together and try to put a stop to this. A document was written that was based off of The Declaration of Sentiments and The Declaration of Independence listing 18 grievances and 11 resolutions demanding that women be recognized as respected members of society. Freed slave and newspaper editor Frederick Douglass argued for approval of the resolution and convinced the audience that it is a necessity. Its was the beginning of a long road to equality for women in the 1800s. This event took place at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. This event was so important because of the 200 women that attended this convention decided that their voices needed to be heard. Even 40 men, including Frederick Douglass attended.  It was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They befriended each other because of Stanton’s husband, Henry Stanton, who was a well known abolitionist. These two were very passionate about equal rights so they decided to take a stand. This convention’s purpose was to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women. In history and today, we can see how this convention affected women’s rights movements.

Seneca Falls inspired many women’s rights movements that we have seen in our recent past. In 2016 women fought for the civil right to be in the Military. Until this time, women were not allowed to fight for their country and were forbidden to have certain roles. About 10% of military positions were outlawed to women. This outraged people and protests were common because of this. Eventually, the ban was lifted off women in combat by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Now more than 111,000 positions are open to women and that number is increasing. Women’s rights to military positioning isn’t perfect yet, but according Defense Secretary Ash carter “fully integrating women into all military positions will make the US Armed Forces better and stronger but there will be problems to fix and challenges to overcome, we shouldn’t diminish that.” This relates to Seneca falls because of the discussion of the civil rights of women.

The most recent women’s rights movement that was inspired by Seneca Falls was The Global Women’s March in 2017. After Trump’s election, women wanted to let their voices be heard that what the new president had said and some of his questionable values. this protest was not just an American protest, it was global. Thousands of women swarmed the streets with creative signs and T-shirts. This event made national news and even spread to social media sites where they got even more support. These women wanted to raise awareness for women’s rights and social values just like Seneca Falls convention.

Seneca Falls has aided in many women’s rights movements such as women in the military and the global women’s march. Without this convention, what would society be like? Would we have the right to vote? Would we be able to even serve in the military? Would we be extremely oppressed? Thankfully, this convention has allowed women’s voices to be heard and our protests be respected. Many positive changes have been made in our women’s rights movements and it all started with 200 brave women in 1848. Our society and equality has improved but there is still some sexism present in our schools and in the daily life. We need to shut down any negativity against women immediately when it is present to preserve women’s equality and respect.

Article by Maggie Sand and Bella Bertsch

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