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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Biography

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was known as one of the most dangerous women in America because she was the only brave one who dared to ask for something unreal and unbelievable. It was the right to vote. She was a woman who demanded equal rights for men and women and who dedicated her life to prove that women are worth giving a right to vote. She was an excellent writer and speaker and her daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, carried on her mother’s work. What she was up to and what she achieved played and still plays a great role for society and especially for women all over the world. Now one thing that unites them all in the belief that a woman can do something as fabulous and unthinkable as Elizabeth Cady Stanton has done.

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One of her well-known works is “The Woman’s Bible” she wrote together with a committee of other women. The book was published in 1895. In it she gave the Old and New Testaments feminist re-reading and laid a special emphasis on ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy of the male-dominated church hierarchy who back then denied the rights and dignities of women, who used and humiliated them. That’s what Alice Leuchtag writes about her in her magazine article: “Stanton believed that orthodox religion was the prime oppressor of women.” (Alice Leuchtag, p. 29). Back then, women were allowed to do only what men ordered them and sometimes they didn’t even have a right to talk till a man allowed them. There is no doubt that such a treatment caused resentment in hearts of many women but Elisabeth Cady Stanton was the only one who dared to stand up against such a treatment. In her “The Woman’s Bible” she even dared to argue with religion as she knew what she was doing: “If the Bible teaches the equality of Woman, why does the church refuse to ordain women to preach the gospel, to fill the offices of deacons and elders, and to administer the Sacraments, or to admit them as delegates to the Synods, General Assemblies and Conferences of the different denominations? They have never yet invited a woman to join one of their Revising Committees, nor tried to mitigate the sentence pronounced on her by changing one count in the indictment served on her in Paradise” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, p. 10).

What this woman did caused a mixture of feelings and emotions starting from anger and hatred and ending with support and admiration. This was a cry of a soul of a woman who couldn’t stand this inequality anymore and who didn’t care of what other people would say about her, whether they would approve or disapprove her ideology. The only thing that mattered to her was the result which she achieved with dignity and honesty. There are no such words that can describe this woman and her personality because saying that she was strong and goal-seeking will be not even half enough. It’s not a secret that most of women were her supporters but some of men till the very end could not make up their minds whether they were for or against her: “Whether Stanton was right or wrong on specific issues is of less importance then her having been a woman engaged in the life of the mind”. (Ellen Carol DuBois, Richard Cándida Smith, p. 5).

What’s more, in her “The Woman’s Bible” she stressed that even when the woman was weak and subdued she still was great and important and the whole civilization depended on her: “The curse pronounced on woman is inserted in an unfriendly spirit to justify her degradation and subjection to man. With obedience to the laws of health, diet, dress, and exercise, the period of maternity should be one of added vigor in both body and mind, a perfectly natural operation should not be attended with suffering. By the observance of physical and psychical laws the supposed curse can be easily transformed into a blessing. Some churchmen speak of maternity as a disability, and then chant the Magnificat in all their cathedrals round the globe. Through all life’s shifting scenes, the mother of the race has been the greatest factor in civilization” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, p. 26). She calls the burden the woman is supposed to care on her shoulders throughout her life a curse and, to some extent, she is right and there is no doubt that such a burden is excessive. If it were not for Elizabeth Cady Stanton the women all over the world would still have been cursed.

There is absolutely no doubt that the work of Elizabeth Cody Stanton and her supporters partly changed the world and evidently changed the attitude of men towards women. Stanton strove for women’s rights and she managed to get what she wanted. She showed every one that women should not be subdued or humiliated, that they should have their rights and be full members of society.

First of all as a result of her work women got right to vote in 1918 in the USA though they only took part in elections of 1920. Starting from 1920 women all over the world started obtaining rights to vote and in fifty years they became absolutely independent. Nevertheless, in some countries women are devoid of independence even in the twenty first century.

Another point is that women got back the respect of men. Having become equal in rights and freedoms women allow themselves much more than they used to a couple of decades ago though only men resent it and so far none of women said that she wanted to get back to those times when women were slaves.

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Moreover, women got an opportunity to work and build careers, growing children and strengthening their families in one and the same time. They are not afraid of difficulties anymore as well as they are not dependent on men. It’s good on the one hand and has its disadvantages on the other hand. It’s a common knowledge that emancipation does not give a chance to a man to prove that he can supply a family financially with his wife staying at home with children. The negative feature of emancipation is that women stopped being women anymore and all that matters to them is to build a career and to prove that they can do it without men.

And finally, women, being physically and emotionally weaker than men force themselves to do something they should not do thus leaving no place for men and their help which results in men’s indifference towards work and being a man in general and ends up with a woman working and a man sitting at home.

In conclusion, Elizabeth Cady Stanton will always be known not only as a woman who stood up for the women’s rights, who fought for women’s voting right and achieved success in doing that, which with time made women independent, but the one who once and for all changed the world both for worse and for better.

References

  1. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The Woman’s Bible. New York: European publishing company, 1898.
  2. Alice Leuchtag, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Freethinker and Radical Revisionist.” The Humanist. 1996: Vol. 56.
  3. Ellen Carol DuBois, and Richard Cándida Smith. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker: A Reader in Documents and Essays. NYU Press, 2007.

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