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The First American Feminists - Essay Example

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The purpose of this paper "The First American Feminists" is to explore the first American feminists through two main pieces of literature: Declaration of Sentiments (Stanton, 1848) and Woman in the 19th Century (Fuller, 1843) and from supplementary works…
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Download file to see previous pages One of the most difficult aspects of studying the Declaration of Sentiments as a work of literature is that it was not intended to receive literary criticism. Therefore when 'literary criticisms' of the work are discussed, this generally refers to how the Declaration was received in the political and social spheres. One of the most important criticisms of the work is that it went against conventional mindsets and suggested a lot of changes be made at once (Kerber, 1976), something that is often very difficult in the political world. For example, it is possible to examine two of the (very long list of) sentiments and find that the Declaration is asking women to fight for two separate things. 'He has compelled her to submit to law in the formation of which she had no voice' (Stanton, 1848) suggests that women fight for suffrage, so that they have a say in the law to which they have to submit. 'He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her' (Stanton, 1848) suggests that women fight for equal rights in education. Whilst this is an admirable aim, and outlines all of the things that women now have access to and seem intuitive enough to those living in the 21st century, it is easy to see how this long list of rights may have been considered too much by some. Change was important to these first American feminists, but it must be considered that typical mindsets were completely against everything that the Declaration asked for....
For example, it is possible to examine two of the (very long list of) sentiments and find that the Declaration is asking women to fight for two separate things. 'He has compelled her to submit to law in the formation of which she had no voice' (Stanton, 1848) suggests that women fight for suffrage, so that they have a say in the law to which they have to submit. 'He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her' (Stanton, 1848) suggests that women fight for equal rights in education. Whilst this is an admirable aim, and outlines all of the things that women now have access to and seem intuitive enough to those living in the 21st century, it is easy to see how this long list of rights may have been considered too much by some. Change was important to these first American feminists, but it must be considered that typical mindsets were completely against everything that the Declaration asked for, and thus they must have expected this initial backlash against the work. The Oneida Whig described the Declaration of Sentiments as 'the most shocking and unnatural event ever recorded in the history of womanity' (Bizzell & Herzberg, 1996), which just shows that the document (and the Seneca Falls Convention) were both viewed as unnatural and unnecessary. Not only does this reinforce the point above, that the document was trying to achieve too much change in too short a space of time, but it shows that the document was possible not worded in a persuasive enough manner. If the document contained less information and was written with the intention of showing the audience that these women were strong, independent and deserved the rights they had ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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