Women’s Rights – a Response

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Last updated: March 28, 2019

The history of social movement focused on women’s rights that started during the 18th century.  It took 70 years before a fruitful result is achieved.  Like in any social movements, the Women’s Movement (WM) suffered the pains of several stages of formation in order to pursue its objectives to win the cause. This study will take a review of the stages of social movement of the WM, and in the second part, analyze the process.Part 1.The Movement of the Ladies of the Seneca Falls.

Genesis period.  A brief summary along with the analysis of the phases of the movement is relayed in this topic.  First, is the genesis stage – described as an idyllic period wherein women’s rights issues were perceived to be insignificant.  At that time, women’s rights and privileges were not spoken of.  Traditions in the past made women believed that the domestic pattern was the standard way to live, simply because they had no other choice.  Whatever misgivings they had on their lives were kept secret since it was useless to complain.At this period, someone recognized an imperfection and attempted to institute reforms.

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  In 1752, Mary Wollstonecraft thought that the situation of treatment to women was imperfect, and an action must be done to transform the status of women whom she said was treated as “domestic brutes”.   She questioned this discrimination thru her book written in 1792, “Vindication of women’s rights”.  Through her works, it is apt to call her as an early social movement leader, as she awakened people by her words that worked for the improvement of women’s status in society. Her book created people’s interest, and was published in Britain, Boston and Philadelphia, USA, and later on was translated in French.

It is expected that in a social movement,   leader meets opposition in the genesis stage, and the suggestions are not taken seriously.  Authorities did not pay much attention to Mary Wollstonecraft and even doubted her morality. Stewart C.

et. al (2007) in their book  called social movement leaders as prophets or intellectuals; but these terms could not be properly ascribed to Mary Wollstonecraft as she only expressed what she felt about the situation; neither could she belong to the intellectuals because she was only a self-educated woman.Social Unrest period.  It took several years after the book was published that women responded to the challenge on the issues on the book.  The second stage of WM developed using “Vindication of Women’s Rights” as focus of attention.  The messages in the book awakened the women to gather together and to move towards a mass action.  Two women leaders, Lucrecia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered members into a first women convention in Seneca Falls  on July 19-20, 1848, to frame up a “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” for equal rights of women.

(Johnson L. (1999)Conventions are gatherings where sentiments, policies and issues are discussed, resolved and ratified.  A Declaration of Sentiments and Resolution was adopted by the First Women’s Rights Convention that petitioned the authorities to give equal protection to women.  It has also provided provisions on how to attain the objectives.Enthusiastic Mobility is the third stage wherein members were recruited and efforts were mobilized to create attention. At this stage, the ladies made extra efforts to make their petition heard by the people and the proper authorities at the Legislature.The fourth stage is the maintenance stage which took 70 years.

During this time, there were several transitions of leadership in the WM due to retirement, death and separations.  There were party separations due to differences of ideas, but were reunited in the end to form a powerful cohesion. The time of maintenance is a quiet time, and leaders went back to writing books, news and information to keep the movement alive (Stewart, et al.).The final stage is the termination when finally; the most awaited Nineteenth Amendment giving equal rights to women was granted on August 20, 1920.

 The ratification of this amendment ended the movement since nothing has been written about it any morePart 2.  Analysis of the stages of social movementBrief summary. Social movement is described as an “intricate social dramas involving multiple scenes, acts and dramas, agents, agencies and purposes” (Stewart).  These movements he said, involves “heroes and heroines, fools and geniuses, victims and villains, evil and good, success and failure, hope and disillusionment.” As such, he believed that social movement has no pattern or trend, and are not permanent in nature. However, he said that social movements have certain life stages, which are classified as the genesis (beginning), social unrest, enthusiastic mobility, maintenance and termination.The genesis period.

  The genesis period is the quiet time with reference to the issue in the sense that people thinks it is not a priority and there are other more important matters that dominate the scenario.  During this situation, action takes several years to develop.  Sometimes it may require an urgent event or awakening to bring people together and move into a mass action. For instance, in our example, it took several years that women finally responded to the issue of women’s rights.

  Likewise, today for example, environmental issues are not given much attention until perhaps, damaging events happen.Social unrest.  Social movement goes into the second stage when, as explained by Stewart, a growing number of people stand up and raises an issue. Usually it is done thru a convention where manifesto, resolutions and petitions are raised. A manifesto contains the ideologies of the organization and binds the members to work towards those objectives.  Stewart, in his book, stated that “theorists noted that a social movement’s ideology is considerably more potent, strikes a responsive chord, and identifies successfully with extant beliefs, folk tales, and links on today’s vital issues.”   For instance, the women at the Seneca Falls Convention shared a common ideology that was expressed in the manifesto passed during the convention.Enthusiastic mobilization.

  Stage three is enthusiastic mobilization of people who already believed in the cause of the movement.  They are the converts who see the movement as the only chance to make the needed improvements and believe that the time has finally come.  Modern media such as cables, TV and internet are used by the movement to gather support and very often prominent people join the movement.

For instance, suffragettes’ marches in 1913 and 1915 put back the issues to the minds of the people. In 1915, the press took notice of the nationwide travel of Mabel Vernon and Sarah Bard Field, along with others, to gather half a million signatures on a petition to Congress. (Johnson, L. 1999)In recent situations, social movements are brought to streets, marches, demonstrations, strikes, and other areas instead of going into the judicial process. Some enforce radical and coercive actions such as burning of trucks, picketing and putting road blocks harassment, defying laws and obvious disrespect.

  Social movements today, take on many forms and ideas such as varied issues of warring factions of religious leaders, politicians, terrorists, and the real issue of change loses it true meaning.  Stewart talks of charismatic leaders persuading people of prosperity gospels while other emerging leaders pose astute issues that they like people to believe in. But what does this mean?  The mobilization stage is the persuasive stage to increase awareness of the members to its cause.

Maintenance stage.  Stage four again goes to a quiet stage or the maintenance stage where because of the long period of waiting, leaders and members lose their enthusiasm, or the movement has lost its steam.  In this case, leaders either have to go back to writing news and information to sustain interest of members. Internet may be available, but other members are either too idle to access or have none.  This is where leaders should hold meetings, conferences, celebration of birthdays and anniversaries just to keep the movement alive.

  In some cases, lack of enthusiasm ends the movement.Termination.  Stage 5 is the termination.  When the case has been resolved, either successfully or otherwise, the movement ends.  Leaders may go into a different direction, as some women leaders did in getting into politics and enjoyed the rights and privileges they won.ConclusionSocial movement that started in the 18th century still exists today.

  There is still no standard pattern for the movement, but the methods conform to the changes in the society.  A social movement is created by unrest, emergency situation, or when the people thinks there is a point to rally about.  Social movements, no doubt, are needed in our society to awaken the people to respond for the need of the day.  We have seen that alone, there is little or nothing can be done, but when united, no amount of problems remains insurmountable.

  But I believe that these movements should not be used for advancement of selfish and personal motives of powerful people, politicians and for vicious purposes of some.


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