The History of Feminism and Women's Rights

July 22, 2017
By sophiefriedberg BRONZE, Pacific Palisades, California
sophiefriedberg BRONZE, Pacific Palisades, California
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Women’s rights have been an issue since the beginning of time, and the struggle for equality is still being battled today. No matter how far women have come in the fight for equality, there are still people in 2017 who believe women should be pushed down. World leaders and political figures alike have difficulty understanding the concept of equality, which further drives feminists to stand up against those who oppress their ideals. Though women have come a long way since the beginning of time, the battle for equal rights will continue until opportunity and freedom is granted to all.

The very first Women’s Rights Convention commenced in 1848. Women of all different backgrounds banded together to express their thoughts, opinions, and experiences. From this came the 12 resolutions detailing the hopes of equality for women. In May of 1869, powerful figures from the Women’s Suffrage Association such as Susan B. Anthony joined to fight for the right to vote. In 1893, the state of Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to allow women this right. Over 15 states in the next 30 years adopted the law as well.

In the early 1900’s, with racism in full swing, it was difficult for African American women to be treated with the same respect as white women. Even though women were still treated as “less than”,  it was hard for women to ignore the race barrier and come together to fight for equality. This causes for a National Association of Colored Women to be formed in 1896. This association gave black women an outlet to not only express their opinions on racism, but their views on anti feminism as well. This empowered women to keep fighting for their rights and to never forfeit their dignity.

Birth control and reproductive rights were heavy subjects not only in the 1900’s, but in present-day as well. In 1916, the first birth control clinic was opened in Brooklyn by Margaret Sanger. Unfortunately, people at this time were still uncomfortable with the idea of equal rights, resulting in the clinic being shut down within 10 days of its creation, and the arrest of Margaret Sanger. Sanger then gained support from political figures, leading her to open another clinic later that year.

As unbelievable as it seems, rape and other forms of sexual assault were not always illegal. Sexual harassment was pushed under the rug for centuries, and it wasn’t until 1986 that rape was classified as illegal. In 1994, The Violence Against Women Act lead for a stricter penalty for those convicted of sexual assault. In the U.S., rape occurs on the daily, and most of these assaults go unrecorded. Women have been seen as “property” for decades, and due to this, people with an out-of-date mindset believe women are just that; property. This is why it is so crucial for women to be treated as equals. The violence against women that occurs every single day is inhumane and disgusting. No matter how far women have come over the years, there are still people who try and prolong the fight for women’s freedom and safety.

To conclude, women have made leaps and bounds in the fight for equal rights. However, there are still countless of people all over the world who work to suppress women, and dedicate their lives to making sure women stay “in their place”. Political figures like Donald Trump teach young girls that they are worthless, and are simply subject to the wish of other people. Expressions such as “hit like a girl” and “women belong in the kitchen” fuel the world to believing that women have boundaries. Yet, with that said, look how far women have come. Women have faced oppression, criticism, backlash, and hatred beyond belief. The treatment of women throughout history has been amazingly poor- yet women still fight for equal rights today. Those who wish to suppress women will never succeed, because women are stronger than any label, limit, or regulation. So keep holding women down, all it creates is more reason to fight back stronger every single day.

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