The Seneca Falls Convention was the first official conference ever held in the United States (US) that later led to the development of women rights (Wellman & Judith 12). This was because they believed men and women were created equally and had rights that were considered equal and they included the right to life and the right to pursuit happiness among others. The convention was majorly recognized for advocating for women’s right to vote, and it also had other sentiments which covered a wide area, and the primary focus was the issue of equality in every aspect of life such as jobs, religion, politics, and morals among others. The total number of people who attended the convention was close to three hundred, among them a group of men and women signed a separate list to support the movement. An important feature that was signed in as an agenda was the disfranchisement which is the revocation of the right of suffrage, usually referred to as the right to vote. This paper presents an essay providing a critical evaluation and analysis on Seneca Falls Woman’s Right Conventions following its humble origin among other relevant aspects and its consideration as the most prominent event that began the women’s right movement.
In the early times following the revolution, it was suggested by the reformers that women were equal to men both intellectually and in their abilities. Local groups were formed, and they spoke for abolitionism which is a movement to end slavery and legal reform which provided a platform for the women rights movement in the late 1980s. Several arguments were brought forward. The arguments supported the movement, and these included letters from Sarah Grimke who declared that whatever was morally right for a man to do was also morally right for a woman to do. Several other sentiments supported this.
The Seneca Convention is believed to have spearheaded and brought to nationwide attention the subject on women’s right. Moreover, all these efforts are attributed to the founders Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott after they witnessed American women delegates being debarred from attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention (WAC) on the basis of gender (Boylan & Anne 370). This motivated them to organize a convention which although took quite a long time to plan; the outcome was the Seneca Falls Women Rights Convection. The trigger ignited at the Seneca Falls Convention did not produce wars or revolutions but brought about a more powerful tool which was the change and empowerment of the humankind.
The place where the conference was held was especially suited for attracting an audience and more so the radical thinkers and so this also contributed to its success. The place had for a long time been a site for reforms and utopian movement which tried to work in the same spirit as other reform movements, and all these can be attributed to the economic activity of the place. The audience were mostly abolitionists.
There were several arguments in which the convention was based, and one of this was that all men and women were created equally (Boylan & Anne 370). They also employed religious arguments that as intended by the Creator, a woman was a man’s equal. The complaints brought forward in the convention was that women had no voice in the making of laws, were denied other rights of citizenship, were declared civilly dead upon marriage, were deprived of property and wages, were discriminated against in cases of work and payment among other complaints.
Other grievances were not mentioned although they were clearly in the mind of the participants. The complaints included sexual oppressions like marital rape. Abusive marriages were such kinds of topics that were later talked about keenly and then women were also encouraged to leave such kinds of abusive marriages.
A lot of progress has been made in the status of women since the convention was held. The demands made by women can be grouped into two sets of needs, and these include women’s rights and women’s emancipation. Women’s rights are the civil rights for example right to vote, the right to education among much more. These are the rights that are to be enjoyed by each and every citizen whether it is a man or woman. Women emancipation, on the other hand, is the freedom from severe limitations that are executed because of gender. They include both biological and social constraints.
Women emancipation further entails self-determination and autonomy. Self- determination is whereby one is free to decide their destiny and to define their social role. Autonomy, on the other hand, refers to earning one’s status and not necessarily being born into it or marrying it, and it encompasses the freedom to choose one’s interests and independences, both financial and cultural. The movement that was started at Seneca Falls later called itself the women rights movement. By the nineteenth century, the movement matured although there were still some wrangles among the advocates as some of them became available, some concerned with the legal aspects, for instance, legal and property rights while the other handling the social aspects for example sex reformers.
In the twentieth century, the plural word ‘women’ was adopted to imply togetherness in the movement. There were however still some distinctions as the groups were divided into two. One group had their attention mainly on women’s right, specifically the civil rights while the other group began as a radical women’s liberation but was later on divided into several specific groups dealing with specific issues for example abortion rights and lesbian groupings. However, this did not separate the group but however has tried to strengthen them into different constituencies.
The demands made at the Seneca Falls Convention has so far been realized in the United States. Although the progress has been uneven, the needs have been partially achieved for the working class women and the women of colour. This unevenness can, for example, be observed between the infant mortality and survival rates between the Whites and the African American women. Some demands like the equal right to divorce which was almost impossible in the previous years before the convention have also become possible, and both men and women have equal rights right now.
There has been a lot of cultural transformation since the emergence of the women rights, and this can be seen in instances where for example female police and fire personnel are usually accepted in the United States without question and are accorded the same responsibilities and training as their male counterparts. Women leaders are also elected freely, and they have a right to vote. Other demands like the treatment of lesbians as normal people and the acceptance of single motherhood which seemed almost impossible before the revolution is now widely accepted.
The convection fulfilled its objectives because of the methods employed. They managed to achieve their demands and sentiments because of the methods that it used in the process. Peaceful methods were applied for example peaceful reform, persuasion and education. It was one step per time process, and they had to achieve earn the gains as nothing was given to them freely. Actions like demonstrations and lobbies were tools that they employed in their mission.
The Seneca Falls can be used as a valuable tool today to show that a small group of people with apparently held ideals and a persuasive analysis of grievances can work hard together and create a transformative movement. Although it takes a long time to realize these efforts, the benefits are usually more overwhelming.
In conclusion, the grievances listed at the Seneca Falls have been dealt with or sorted although new complaints keep on coming up with each generation. Seneca Falls can, therefore, be considered as a long-standing myth by the United States social movement because students are taught about it and the site for the convention is also used as a national park. Men and women have also got equal representation. It is, therefore, important to note that all men and women are equal and have been endowed with certain inalienable rights such as the right to life. The Seneca Convection is, therefore, an important event that leads to the realization of women’s rights that are now being realized and enjoyed by all.
Wellman, Judith. “The Seneca Falls women’s rights convention: A study of social networks.” Journal of Women’s History 3.1 (1991): 9-37.
Boylan, Anne M. “Women and Politics in the Era before Seneca Falls.” Journal of the Early Republic 10.3 (1990): 363-382.