July 20th 1848
It’s July 20th 1848, and I’m here in Seneca Falls, New York, at the Wesleyan Chapel attending the second day of the Seneca Falls Convention. This is the first convention organized for women’s suffrage ever to be acknowledged. With 300 people having adopted the Declaration of sentiments, I’d say that this is a profound event that we are all awaiting for.
According to the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, women are opposing the rights of men, and are demanding for their own rights. The way that they have been treated has been the social normality for years. The Cult of Domesticity has assigned women a passive role within their family. The role that God has supposedly given, according to the cult, is to be a wife and a mother, a keeper of the household, and the guardian of all who lived within the home. It’s said in The Household, ” A really good housekeeper is almost always unhappy. While she does so much for the comfort of others, she nearly ruins her own health and life. It is because she cannot be easy and comfortable when there is the least disorder or dirt to be seen”(1). Women in our society have been taught to take care of the household just like how men are told to go out and work to support their family with money.
I’ve heard a few women’s activists attempt to make a ‘change’ for their gender roles and in the government, but this convention is quite sudden. It all started eight years ago when the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London took place, women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, along with a few others, were not allowed to delegate their status during the convention, and were forced to sit in the balcony to watch. Now event had sparked the anger of these women, therefore Stanton and Mott planned to hold this convention to form a society to advocate for the rights of women. To defend the subject of the matter, and to make a profound impact on the people at Wesleyan Church, the Declaration of Sentiments included content from the Declaration of Independence to prove what Jefferson had said about equal citizenship but in this case to include women as well. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all mean and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain alienable 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”(3). The Declaration of Independence had inspired these words in the opening of the Declaration of Sentiments, there’s a slight twist to Stanton and Mott’s version, but needless to say, this is a definite awakening to all people in our country.
There are some extreme direct and somewhat unfiltered statements along with the more modest statements, such as, “He has oppressed her on all sides, and he has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns. He has made her morally an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband- she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he become, to all intents and purposes, her master”(3). This image of ‘master’ and the phrase, ‘taken from her,’ gives the sense that men are conniving manipulative creatures, which in my defense is not true at all. I can see why some women are incredibly fed up, maybe their lives at home are very taxing, but their feelings are pouring out all at once, therefore making these statements irrational for this moment and place.
I have never pictured the women’s world as this type of dismal life from what the women here are explaining. Yes, women are obliged to care for children when men are at work, and prepare for dinner, and clean up the home every once in a while, but this is just a glimpse of women’s perception of a mistreated life style.
Many of the resolutions had to do with married women’s property rights, divorce, education and employment opportunities, and the ninth resolution particularly was intriguing. It is the duty of the women in America to secure themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise. In the end, a total of 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of sentiments, considering this is supporting a women’s suffrage convention, the amount of votes are fair, but in realistic matters, there are not enough persons who voted for this declaration to pass. I would not be surprised if these women pushed further of this matter in the future, but as of now, there’s no change in women’s rights. I’d like to leave this article with a quote from the Declaration which should leave you with the decision whether you agree and feel the necessity to give these women their rights, or otherwise, “He has endeavored in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life”(3).