“I am sick of the song of suffrage,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to Matilda Joslyn Gage in the 1880s. Gage concurred. These two women had begun to think differently than Susan B. Anthony, their co-leader of the National Woman Suffrage Association, who believed the movement should concentrate on getting women the vote. We already have that right, Gage contended. In a system based on the consent of the governed, the government just needs to protect our right to exercise citizenship, not “give” it to us.
We need to look at the larger issues, Stanton and Gage agreed. Those issues were: creating a system of cooperation, not competition; ensuring that every child born was wanted and women were the “absolute sovereigns” of their bodies; rebalancing economic disparity while gaining equal pay for women and demanding a “true” religion, one that fostered freedom and equality for all.
The New York centennial of women’s suffrage in 2017 and the country in 2020 allow us an opportunity to celebrate those victories, while looking beyond the vote to dialogue about the issues of equality raised by our suffrage foremothers, which continue to cause cultural dissent today.
The format of this presentation is informal story-telling followed by engagement with the audience designed to draw out their insights, contemporary connections and opinions in a safe, respectful environment.