Friday, April 3, 2009

Movements of the Progressive Era

Movements of the Progressive Era

While historians may debate the exact boundaries of the Progressive Era, it seems clear that the stream of �New� ideas, innovations, and movements flowing through institutional and cultural landscapes around the turn of the last century reshaped the waterways of culture and society.
In the most general terms, the Progressive Era was characterized by attempts to embrace, accommodate, reach a new balance with, or fight against life in an increasingly urban, industrial, routinized, and multi ethnic environment. The vehicles for these attempts ranged from remaking the self via various physical culture movements to conserving or �reopening� the �frontier� via conservation movements and imperialist expansion, from engineering humanity through eugenics to engineering �human flight� through the airplane, from organizing labor and increasing business regulation to remaking the political process, to name but a few. The dramas of these competing approaches and goals often took place on the broadest of public stages�presidential elections and world�s fairs and expositions.
The sites reviewed below, and listed in the additional links of interest, give one a taste of the complexity of history and historical change. No one site or topic can be said to encompass every aspect of the era or to provide its definitive definition. But, the array of topics as a whole functions as a system, pointing towards-- though not entirely capturing-- the dynamics of the period.

Women's Rights Movement

The Women's Rights Movement was a significant crusade for women that began in the late nineteenth century and flourished throughout Europe and the United States for the rest of the twentieth century. Advocates for women's rights initiated this movement as they yearned for equality and equal participation and representation in society. Throughout all of history, the jobs of women ranged from housewives to factory workers, yet oppression by society, particularly men, accompanied them in their everyday lives. Not until the end of the nineteenth century did women begin to voice their frustrations about the inequalities among men and women, and these new proclamations would be the basis for a society with opportunities starting to open for women. The supporters of women's rights strived for voting rights, equal pay in jobs, no job discrimination, and other privileges that would put them on the same level as men in both society and in the workplace. Starting with the Seneca Falls Declaration in 1848 and continuing through the twentieth century with documents like the United Nations Declaration of Women's Rights, women became significant leaders that aided in the advancement of twentieth century life and society.

The first well-known quest for women's rights began in Seneca Falls, New York, on July19, 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a women's conference in hopes of discussing the role of women in society and establishing a sense of what women would need to do to overcome the barriers they had faced for several centuries. Stanton and another supporter, Lucretia Mott, developed the Seneca Falls Declaration as a document that would highlight the discrimination that women had endured for hundreds of years. They hoped that this would attract the attention of both men and women by detailing how women had been discriminated for years and how this was going to change. The declaration states that men have had "absolute tyranny" over women throughout all of history, and it is this idea that has prevented the progression of women's abilities an talents.1 The declaration continues to say that women have been robbed of their inalienable rights, rights to hold property, representation in government, an education, job opportunities, and many other rights that have only been applicable to men in the past.2 The ideas and concepts suggested in the Seneca Falls Declaration evoked strong feelings of equality among women, and it also sparked anger amongst men.
As women began to approach the idea of women's rights for the first time, many men revealed their strong opposition to equality based on the feeling that women were inferior to men. One such opposer to women's rights, Francis Parkman, believed that women should not have the same voting rights as men. He believed this simply because "the physical and mental constitution of women is more delicate than in the other sex," therefore suggesting that they are not able to handle the "harsh conflicts" of the political world.3 Similarly, George Romanes justified that men are far more superior to women. He stated that the "brain-weight of women is about five ounces less than that of men," and he believed that women were not intellectually capable to take on roles or jobs that only men had been accustomed to in the past. This continuing crisis of equality among men and women spread into the twentieth century, as both men and women were pulling for their side of the issue throughout the United States and Europe.
During the beginning of the twentieth century, the progression of women's rights was gradual, but women soon gained recognition politically in Soviet Russia, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain, United States, and several other countries.4 However, the equality of women was still an intense issue, as women wanted to achieve equality not only through women's suffrage, but also through gaining recognition as an individual with the same rights and privileges as anyone in society. The Women's Rights Movement was again heightened after World War II, primarily because women went back to their customary role as housewives staying at home to take care of their children. More movements and documents for women's rights started to surface as women did not want to yield to the past oppression of men. In 1963, Betty Friedman, a promoter of woman's rights, wrote The Feminine Mystique, which illustrated a goal for women to strive for, specifically the goal of pursuing a career outside of the home. Friedan expressed these ideas when she exclaimed, " I want something more than my husband and my children and my home."5 Also, after World War II, Western European women began to advocate their rights in society, and the United Nations Declaration of Women's Rights was passed in 1967. This declaration proved to be a critical advancement in Western Europe as it finally established the status of women in society. This document established that women have the right to vote and hold public office, give full consent to marriage, hold jobs and get the same pay as men, get time off for marriage and maternity, and do many other things that had previously been prohibited.6 With this document, several other movements, petitions, and actions followed as women began to move away from their home life and venture out to find new opportunities.
As the late twentieth century approached, more and more women began to become key figures in society. A large percentage of married women had obtained jobs away from their homes, and with this came lower birthrates. The roles of women were no longer specifically concentrated in the home, but now a family was organized and economically run by both parents.7 In 1990, Joan Konner, dean of Columbia University's School of Journalism, elaborated on the idea that although women are continuing to take on greater roles in the marketplace, they are still carrying out the feeling of family. She believes that "women define themselves in terms of relationship and responsibility" and they use these ideals to manage their family life and their job.8 With many rights finally es tablished for women, the later part of the twentieth century included a time when women displayed their talents and abilities to achieve their goals and ambitions.
The progression of women's rights and the Women's Rights Movement has lasted for over a century and will probably continue to develop into the future. As women have fought to have the same rights that men had naturally been granted, society and the role of women as individuals was drastically altered. From composing declarations and documents to gaining recognition in the workplace, women have become increasingly prominent in all cultures. Influential people such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott have become some of the most significant individuals in history. Women, now able to participate in society socially, economically, and politically, have changed the entire world as we know it today.

Why We Don't Want Men to Vote

Because man's place is in the army.
Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
During World War I, when women took up jobs in factories to support the war, as well as taking more active roles in the war than in previous wars. After the war, even the more restrained National American Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, took many opportunities to remind the President, and the Congress, that women's war work should be rewarded with recognition of their political equality. Wilson responded by beginning to support woman suffrage. In a speech on September 18, 1918, he said,
We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership

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