Feminism in the US

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Feminism in the United States

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." (West)

What is feminism and how did it start? Webster's defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" (Webster's) but in order to truly understand feminism and its impact in the United States, you must go back to the beginning. Organized feminism evolved from various groups pushing social reform such as the Abolition of Slavery, the Social Purity and Temperance movements. Women soon realized that if they wished to change society they would need to create their own organizations to do so. The first Women's Conference was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. It was there, three years later, that Susan B. Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had organized the 1848 convention.

Together they led the women's rights movement for the next half-century. They first tried to organize a women's temperance society, but that reform proved too church-bound for their feminist concerns. In 1854, they turned to the creation of a women's rights movement per se. (Moore) While Cady Stanton wrote articles and declarations to legislatures, Anthony worked to organize women into a sustained political movement. They campaigned on everything from guardianship to access to higher educations.

Women's suffrage was one of the first major feminist issues. The women's suffrage movement lasted at least 70 years, from the first formal women's convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, to the passage of the 19th amendment. The first public appeal for woman suffrage came in 1848 at the Seneca Falls convention. The men and women at the convention adopted a Declaration of...