Women's Rights

"We Won't Stop"

It’s our women’s rights song: a track about those who battled for equal rights for women. The song reviews the sparks of the women’s rights movement in Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings. And it covers major milestones for feminism along the way, including the Seneca Falls Convention, suffrage and The Feminine Mystique.

Ah, welcome gentlemen. I trust you are all men.

Huh! Men, men, men.

Have a seat at this large table. We're going to talk about some man stuff.

Blah blah blah.

Tie a tie. We're going to talk about this little Declaration.

Ladies, where are you? Ladies, it's time to stand up!

All men are created equal.

But what about the women?

We think you're too feeble.

And that's how the revolution began,
The French and the English acting like typical men.
And that inspired us women to fight.

Tell me why we can't have the same rights?
What's holding us down? Society's rules?
I'm sick of these fools trying to tell me what to do.

Churn the butter; make the clothes.

No! This is not the life that I chose.

Well I say, "Your hand a needle better fits."

Well I say your brain doesn't even know a stitch.
I just read a book by Mary Wollstonecraft,
About oppression; it's a lesson all people should have.
She spoke up like... "Who?" Elizabeth Stanton,
Who fought against slavery and got us all chanting.

We want rights for all people.
Women and men were created equal.
We won't stop till we have a voice.
No discrimination, women have a choice. (x2)

I just got back from Seneca Falls,
And I got a little message for y'all.
See, we wrote our own declaration.

Tell us your grievances.

Here's an explanation:
I'm tethered to the man and I can't own land,
Still can't vote, now it's gotten out of hand.

Well that's all part of our plan.

What? You scared of women voting?
What, y'all can't hang? I'm a suffragist!

I think I've heard enough of this.

Me and Susan B. Anthony are the roughest chicks.
In the NWSA, we got together and we voted anyway.
They threw us in jail - like that's a solution,
We need to amend the Constitution.
Now, finally in 1920...

What?! You got the right to vote now, honey!

We want rights for all people.
Women and men were created equal.
We won't stop till we have a voice.
No discrimination, women have a choice. (x2)

So let me get this straight.
You women want to be treated the same as the men?

Of course we do.

Let's see what we can do.

What it be - to my ladies overseas,
I wonder what it's like in a communist regime.

Ironically it's not like what it might seem,
Men and women are living off the same means.

But when American men go to war...

We need women like we never needed 'em before!

There you go talking that to me,
Begging me to go work... "Where?" In the factory.
And let me guess, when you get back,
You think I'll hop into the kitchen, fix you a snack?

But it's the second wave.

From a bored housewife,
Thinking: “This can't be all, this can't be life, right?”
I think I'll get a degree.

Well, your problem has no name... it's kind of weak.

Well y'all still get paid way more cheddar than me,
Maybe you should be the one who cleans house all week.

We want rights for all people.
Women and men were created equal.
We won't stop 'till we have a voice.
No discrimination, women have a choice.

So everything was cool after the ‘60s, right?

Nah. Women still own only 1% of the land worldwide.

Oh yeah. And women aren't even allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia.

But there are female heads of state.

Yeah. Not in America though.

Not yet...

Flocab Spits Facts
History Speaks

How did the French and American revolutions inspire the fight for women's rights?
The United States ripped itself free from the colonial stronghold of the British King George III with the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Thus the American Revolution began. The French people stood up to King Louis XVI, demanding that he accept their belief that "Men are born and remain free and equal in rights." And the French Revolution began.

A patriotic club for women during the French Revolution

But do you notice something missing? How about the ladies?
“All men are created equal” really and truly only referred to men. So as nations began to feel the revolutionary fervor in the late 1700s, women also began to question their rights and limitations in society. And the women's revolution began.

Women protesting the excessive riches of Marie Antoinette

What unique challenges to the women's revolution rose?
The revolution for women's rights proved even more challenging than the American Revolution against Britain. Women were not looking to overthrow a king. It was easy for the colonists in the United States to paint King George III as a villain. It was easy for the French nationalists to get people angry about the excessive riches of King Louis XVI. The enemy of women's rights—if there even was one—was harder to define. Women knew that they were limited in society compared with what men could do. But what was keeping women down? Society's rules? Religion? Their husbands? Men in general? Women themselves? Lack of a clear oppressor made it more challenging for women to band together.

Where were the first "battles" of the women's revolution?
Before women could begin to claim equal rights, and work alongside men, they needed to break free of their "prisons," which appeared more comfortable than a jail cell but may have been nearly as constricting. The first battle was in the home.
What was life like for women before the women's movement?
Before the Enlightenment, women and men both worked for their survival. Women milked cows, fed chickens and tended the fire. They used the milk for butter and cheese, and they made clothing. Then they taught their daughters to do these same tasks. And so on. Generations of women lived in much the same way as they had for centuries. At first men were focused on household tasks too. But as men began to learn advanced trades, nothing changed for women. It was as if the Middle Ages never ended for them, while men happily marched into modernity.

Anne Bradstreet

There had been stirrings of women speaking out against their oppression since the Renaissance. In the 1600s, poet Anne Bradstreet wrote, "Who says my hand a needle better fits." She meant, why do people assume that women are the ones who should be doing the housework?

Mary Wollstonecraft

Why was Mary Wollstonecraft's book important?
But besides a few blips on the radar, women did not truly gather together to fight for rights until 1792, when British writer Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." In this treatise, she asked how many generations it would take for women to rise above the position of slaves.

What did Wollstonecraft say in her book?
Wollstonecraft argued against the degrading way that women were expected to be treated by their husbands and other men. She equated the treatment of women with the treatment of slaves. While domestic violence (in the form of a husband's hitting his wife) wasn't the norm, it was far more prevalent than in today's society. Wollstonecraft thought that women were partly responsible for passing down these expectations to their daughters, and that it had to stop. She and her followers saw marriage itself as a form of oppression . (Wollstonecraft's own daughter went on to write the novel Frankenstein .)

Wollstonecraft started a movement. Women were inspired by Wollstonecraft's writings, and they began to join together with other women who felt the same way.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with two of her children

How did the slavery movement inspire the women's movement? Were women similar to slaves?
It is not a coincidence that Wollstonecraft used the term "slave" to describe women. In fact, many of the people who began fighting for women's rights had been fighting for abolition , or the end of slavery. The next major step for women's rights was started by these abolitionists. In fact, Elizabeth Cady Stanton , one of the most famous women's rights advocates, was inspired by her experience at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840. Stanton spent much of her time discussing the injustices of slavery. And soon, Stanton connected the dots. She realized that the entrapments of slaves and their lack of opportunities also applied to women and their position in the world. So she began fighting for women's freedom.

Lucretia Mott, who organized the convention with Stanton

Why was the Seneca Falls Convention significant?
In 1848, women gathered together in Seneca Falls, New York, to rally for women's rights. This convention for women's rights was the first of its kind. At the Seneca Falls Convention , Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the writing of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions. It was modeled on the Declaration of Independence. But instead of demanding freedom from the British, these women demanded rights for women. The Declaration of Independence listed 18 grievances, or complaints, so the women at this convention did so too. Complaints included the fact that women had no property rights, they were dependent on men, and they were not allowed to become doctors and lawyers. But perhaps the most important grievance to come from the convention was that women were not allowed to vote.


What is women's suffrage?
Suffrage is the right to vote, and women who fought for this right were known as suffragists . After the Seneca Falls Convention, many women were inspired to hold their own conventions. But the fight for women's suffrage got held up a bit by the Civil War. After the Civil War, the fight for suffrage resumed.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
How did Susan B. Anthony influence the women's suffrage movement? One of the most outspoken suffragists was Susan B. Anthony . She and Stanton created the National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA). After trying to fight for women's suffrage in a number of unsuccessful ways, the leaders of the NWSA decided that they would try a different tactic. Instead of trying to change voting laws, they claimed that the Constitution actually said they had the right to vote. So in 1872, approximately 150 women tried to vote, and a few—including Susan B. Anthony—were actually able to submit ballots. But this tactic didn't work. Anthony and the others were arrested, and eventually the Supreme Court said that women definitely did NOT have the right to vote.

In the 1860s, several women's rights activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wanted to take on divorce laws. But they realized that they needed to unite women, and because of religious reasons, they knew they might have difficulty uniting women around the rights of women in society and the home. So they decided to focus on the issue of suffrage.
What is the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
The battle for voting rights was slow. Some states began to give women the right to vote, but it took until 1920 for women to vote nationally. That year, Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment , finally giving American women suffrage. A similar campaign had been happening in the United Kingdom, and women over 30 there earned the right to vote in 1918.

How were women treated in communist regimes?
Ironically, in two countries suffering under the fist of brutal dictators, women had more equality with men. In both the USSR and the People's Republic of China, women and men were seen as equals. However, they were equal in their ability to starve and be poor. It was a trade-off.

Rosie the Riveter

What happened between earning the right to vote and the 1960s?
Once women won the right to vote in the United States, the feminist movement did not have a clear next direction. Women's activists could not agree on a cause to fight against. During the world wars, women were asked to join the war effort. Propaganda figures like Rosie the Riveter encouraged women to take jobs in factories previously held by men.
But after the war, most women returned to the home. And it was from the difficulties of being a housewife that the next feminist movement began.

What happened in the 1960s?
World War II ended. The United States entered a period of never-before-seen prosperity. One result of the first wave of feminism is that more women than ever before attended college. But now a majority of these college-educated women were housewives, and many women wanted more than just a supposedly ideal life in the home. Instead of changing the world, these women changed diapers. Instead of holding skilled jobs, they held positions in the PTA. Many women were depressed and bored, but they didn't know that other women felt the same way.
What are the waves of feminism?
People sometimes mention different "waves" of feminism. The first wave of feminism refers to the suffrage movement. The second wave of feminism refers to the movement that began again in the 1960s. And the third wave refers to the current era. So let's get back to that second wave .

Betty Friedan

What was the "problem that has no name"?
In 1963, Betty Friedan published a book that re-sparked the fight for women's rights. The book was called The Feminine Mystique . Friedan described an idea called the problem that has no name , which described the unhappiness of a lot of women who felt like their brains were shriveling from lack of use.
How did Betty Friedan help fight employment discrimination?
Friedan helped women join together by forming the National Organization for Women (NOW). Their main fight was to end employment discrimination , or not hiring people based on their sex or race or other factors. Many women were able to gain jobs as a result of NOW's efforts. But to this day, women still make less money than men for doing the same job in many fields.

What are current women's rights issues?
Many women were turned off from the idea of feminism after NOW became more radical in the 1970s. But starting in the 1960s, the fight for women's rights turned global. In 1979, the United Nations created an international bill of rights for women called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

A woman in a burqa

What are international women's issues?
Women's rights have certainly not been fully won. In many poor countries, women are not allowed to gain an education. They are forced to marry and often physically abused. In some Muslim nations, women are forced to completely cover themselves in burqas. Many fundamentalist religions force women into slave-like relationships with men. Only 1 percent of landowners in the world are women. In the current time, some argue that the way that poor countries can fight their way out of poverty is by using their greatest untapped resource—women.

In many countries, women are not able to speak out without fear when their rights are violated. And until all women in the world are able to speak out and feel safe, women will keep fighting.

Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records on women's rights. Women have not been allowed to vote (though it seems this will change for the election in 2014). They can't walk down the street unless they are accompanied by a man. And women are prohibited from driving cars.

"If women be really capable of acting like rational creatures, let them not be treated like slaves"
—Mary Wollstonecraft

Which female author wrote a book about female oppression?
Mary Wollstonecraft
Which female leader fought against slavery?
Elizabeth Stanton
Where was the Declaration of Rights and Grievances written?
Seneca Falls
What were two important civil rights that women were denied?
The right to own land, and the right to vote
Who went to jail for voting?
Susan B. Anthony
When did women start working in factories in large numbers?
When men went to war
In the second wave, what were the sentiments of housewives?
They were bored and wanted more to do.
What was a financial issue that women are still fighting in the workplace?
Unequal pay
After the '60s, what percentage of land did women own worldwide?
1 percent
Has there ever been a female head of state in the U.S.?

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