Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Woman’s suffrage and the right to vote


I’ve now heard three lectures on Woman’s Suffrage and women getting the vote in 1920 at this week’s Lakeside Chautauqua Lecture series.  I used to think it was a very significant part of our history, but not any more.  Nothing really changed for women except voting rights that I can tell.  The parallel 19th and 20th century movements of women’s groups concerning property rights, education, custody of children, safer child birth, dress reform, public health, public libraries, Sunday schools for factory children, female ordination in churches, seminary attendance, temperance,  and general national movements including freedom to travel, mass production of automobiles, cooperative extension, lyceum, Chautauqua, voting in local  and municipal elections, and more technology for the home (sewing machines, indoor plumbing, electricity) had already greatly improved women’s lives by 1920. 

They did vote, by the millions, but not for women or even women’s issues for another 40-50 years. WWI had a much greater impact on women than the 1920 right to vote. Then it was the Great Depression and WWII that changed lives. Women never got to vote on abortion, or even same sex marriage.

Just to be clear, this is my opinion, not that of the lecturer. She believes the Right to Vote was very important. I'm happy I can vote--I just think that by 1920, it made little difference in the lives of women.

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