because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

If Elizabeth Cady Stanton's parents didn't want an in-your-face woman for a daughter, they shouldn't have let her explore her father's law library when she was still a young girl and debate issues with his law clerks. That's how she began to realize that women -- especially married women -- didn't have nearly the rights of men. And thinking about these types of issues eventually caused her to fight against the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution on the basis that it would be wrong to give Black men the vote while keeping all women -- Black and White -- in the position of second class citizens.

Though she was formally educated at Johnstown Academy, where she won several awards for her academic abilities, Stanton still smarted under the knowledge that her father would have preferred her to be a boy. And though she loved her husband and children dearly, she nevertheless rejected the usual custom of using the term "Mrs." "[T]he custom of calling women Mrs. John This and Mrs. Tom That and colored men Sambo and Zip Coon," Stanton was quoted as saying, "is founded on the principle that white men are lords of all."

So, it was not surprising to anyone, least of all her husband, when she wrote in her early thirties: "The general discontent I [feel] with woman's portion as wife, housekeeper, physician, and spiritual guide...and the wearied, anxious look of the majority of women impresse[s] me with a strong feeling that some active measures should be taken to remedy the wrongs of society in general, and of women in particular."

And the next thing anyone knew, the first women's rights convention was being held in Seneca Falls, the town where Stanton lived in upstate New York. Over the decades after the convention, Stanton eventually claimed that the 14th and 15th Amendments, in fact -- because of the way they were worded -- gave women the right to vote. So she and her principle partner in crime, in-your-face woman Susan B. Anthony made it a point to repeatedly go to the polls and demand to vote -- no matter how many times they were turned away. And another of her pet projects was a book re-interpreting the Bible to put women in a less submissive role. In-your-face women aren't shy about  taking on any opposition. Why should they be? They know they're right.

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