Susan B Anthony and Women’s Suffrage in the United States

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Interactions are a key factor in shaping the way people see others. They provide society with a framework of what is socially accepted and what is not. Gender expectations are then formed due to this; however, they are not constant. As Allan G. Johnson talks about in, “Patriarchy, the System An it, Not a He, Them, or Us” they can be shaped and molded to fit different time periods dependent upon the interactions that are occurring and lead to socially constructed statuses based on how one chooses to act (Johnson, 1997).

In the document, One Woman, One Vote, people were reinforcing oppressive ways by participating in a society where women were seen as the property of their husbands, and were almost always outspoken. This occurred due to not only men’s interactions, but also women’s interactions with their cultural system. Women were second class citizens who were restricted by laws and customs of their time. By participating in customary ways women were playing into the gender roles that were formed, since it was just seen as routine behavior for them to be treated how they were. Because of the social interactions then, by choosing to participate in it, people were therefore shaping it.

When Susan B. Anthony and other women decided it was time for a change, they began to focus on how they participated in their system showing a similarity between Johnson’s piece about systems being affected choices and the documentary One Woman, One Vote.

There was a patriarchal system occurring during the 1800s. Women had few rights, and once married, a woman almost completely seized to exist as an individual. From an early age women were taught to be obedient and often accused of blasphemy if they had differing views on their status in society. The gender roles at the time showed that white male citizens were held in higher positions.

These men were raised in a patriarchal culture and, “to live in a patriarchal culture is to learn what is expected of us as men and women, the rules that regulate punishment and reward based on how we behave and appear” (Johnson, pg. 102). Since systems can often be reduced down to the people who participate in it, men and women were being raised with expectations placed on their gender during the time. According to Allan Johnson, to choose a different path to participate in would be to drift away from a tradition that provided a foundation for what was desirable and good for their time period (Johnson, 1997).

These social roots tended to generate and nurture the social problems that were occurring and could be reflected in the actions and behaviors of the individuals. Susan B. Anthony, knew that she did not want to be a man’s house wife, so decided to change the way she participated in the system, “all men and women are involved in this oppressive system, and none of us can control whether we participate, only how” (Johnson, pg. 104). This acknowledgement led to a movement that would shake the foundation of the American society.

Susan B. Anthony along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many other women knew woman suffrage was important. Since the right to vote was reserved only for a white male citizen Anthony wanted to get a message out to people that women must have full rights of citizenship, equality, and be treated as human beings (One Woman, One Vote). Yet, the reason so many people were in opposition to women suffrage was not solely due to their distaste for it, but rather due to it being something new, and they were not used to the idea.

People were used to being raised in an environment that was structured by cultural expectations of what appropriate gendered behavior was. Different genders tend to unintentionally carry different stereotypes with them (Renzetti and Curran, pg 78). For example, sex is associated with different behavioral and personality traits, which can provide insight as to why women were treated with less equality for so long—because of the way people participated in a system that raised males to be more dominant. The identity of a women was to shape the world through their work at home, and because of this some women thought that by joining a world of voting they would be joining the corrupt male world.

Anthony and Stanton triggered a spark that ignited the need for change. In the early 1900s, women did not let norms define who they were, and they chose how they wanted to participate in the system, this example compares to Johnsons article when it says “we all participate in something larger than ourselves, something we didn’t create but that we have the power to affect through the choices we make about how to participate” (Johnson, pg. 99). Many women were arrested for standing up for their rights and while in prison they displayed an immense amount of strength by enduring police brutality and going on hunger strikes in order to get their message out that women suffrage was not a joke.

Woodrow Wilson was finally forced to acknowledge woman suffrage and declared the Susan B. Anthony amendment which had to solicit the women’s vote; however, leaders compromised and said that states were allowed to discriminate against black women. Fast forward a little and along came a young man named of Harry Burns. He decided how he was going to participate in the current system. His vote led to the battle of suffrage coming to an end. American women had finally won the right to vote all due to defying cultural expectations placed on genders and choosing how they participated in the current system.

Cite this paper

Susan B Anthony and Women’s Suffrage in the United States. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/susan-b-anthony-and-womens-suffrage-in-the-united-states/

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