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A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

Submitted By: Christine Stansell

Published: August 24, 2010, NY Times


LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday - the largest act of enfranchisement in our history - it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We're inclined to assume that the passage of women's suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors' and mayors' offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

 

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

 

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women's rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

 

But, at that time, women's suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation's founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment's second section, Republicans inserted the word "male," prohibiting the denial of voting rights to "any of the male inhabitants" of the states.

 

In the ensuing decades, the nation backpedaled from the equal-rights guarantees of the 14th and 15th amendments. Black voters in the South were refused federal protection, and even in the North and West, literacy tests and educational requirements were used to turn immigrants and laborers away from the polls. The suffrage movement itself embraced anti-immigrant and anti-black views. In 1903 in New Orleans, at their annual convention, suffragists listened to speakers inveigh against the Negro menace. Black suffragists met far across town. (An elderly Susan B. Anthony paid them a respectful call.) It was the nadir of the women's movement.

 

Later in the first decade of the new century, though, an influx of bold young women, allergic to the old pieties about female purity and comfortable working with men, displaced their moralistic, teetotaling elders. Black women, working women and immigrants joined white reformers in a stunningly successful coalition. >From 1909 to 1912, they won suffrage in Oregon, California and Washington. More states followed, so that by the 1916 presidential election, 4 million new votes were in play.

 

"Antis" still managed to defeat suffrage measures in four Northern states that year. "Woman suffrage wants the wife to be as much the ruler as the husband, if not the chief ruler," warned one antagonist. But such views were waning - everywhere but the South.

President Woodrow Wilson, who had been a genteel but firm anti-suffragist, was indebted to female voters for helping him win a close election, and in 1918 he endorsed a constitutional amendment. That year the 19th Amendment passed the House. It stalled in the Senate - blocked by conservative Southerners - but Wilson muscled it through in 1919.

Thirty-six of the 48 states then needed to ratify it. Western states did so promptly, and in the North only Vermont and Connecticut delayed. But the segregated South saw in the 19th Amendment a grave threat: the removal of the most comprehensive principle for depriving an entire class of Americans of full citizenship rights. The logic of women's disenfranchisement helped legitimize relegating blacks to second-class citizenship.

 

Female voters would also pose practical difficulties, described bluntly by a Mississippi man: "We are not afraid to maul a black man over the head if he dares to vote, but we can't treat women, even black women, that way. No, we'll allow no woman suffrage."

Nine Southern states joined by Delaware forced ratification to a halt, one state short.

 

Only Tennessee was left, and the opposition had good reason to think it would line up with the rest of the region. But after a nine-day special session in the heat of August 1920, a legislator pledged to the nays jumped ship - he later said it was because his mother told him to - and the 36th state was in.

 

Even then, in several Southern states, die-hards went to court to invalidate the amendment, stopping only after the Supreme Court in 1922 unanimously dismissed their arguments.

 

In 1923 Delaware ratified belatedly to join the rest of the country, but the Southern states waited decades: Maryland in 1941, Virginia in 1952, Alabama in 1953. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina came along from 1969 to 1971, years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had passed. Mississippi brought up the rear, not condoning the right of women to vote until 1984.

 

 

What Women Want - for Real

Submitted By: Kathryn Jean Lopez

The new feminism of life as it is really lived.

 

Could politics end the mommy wars?

What mommy wars, you ask? One short answer is: the ones that make for awkward silences at cocktail parties when a woman is asked what she does and she responds that she raises her children. The feminist revolution would have us believe that's undignified.


That's bunk. It always has been.

With the increased media presence of women of all political stripes, especially in politics - as candidates, as tea-party players and participants - that lie is being exposed in a whole new mainstream way, crowding out the delusion of the lamestream (to borrow one woman's word). Exposing that lie in a reasoned, well-researched, sober way was the goal of a panel presented by the Susan B. Anthony List in Manhattan on the 90th anniversary of the enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the constitutional right to vote.

 

At the heart of the reasonableness of it all was, as moderator Helen Alvaré of George Mason University put it, "women's lived experience." You can only mess with reality - and the natural law - for so long before your feminist fantasy is revealed to be misery.

The event, billed as "A Conversation on Pro-Life Feminism," was both a primer on its existence and an attempt to replace the conventional approach to so-called women's issues. Women are not and never have been a monolith, period, never mind a monolithic voting bloc.

 

And it was a real conversation. One aiming for real answers about real life, embracing just that. Not life as Ms. and academy radicals portray it.

 

W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia got to the heart of this mythological mommy war pitting stay-at-home moms against so-called working moms (I say so-called because they are all actually working), continuing the discussion with me after: "Many in the media and academy think working women are one way, and that stay-at-home wives and mothers are another way. This overlooks the fact that many women who work outside the home would like to work less or not at all. That is, they are working because they feel they have to, not because they want to.

 

"This is particularly true for women who self-identify as gender traditionalists - who believe men and women are fundamentally different, and that men should focus more on breadwinning and women should focus more on homemaking - or maternalists - who believe that infants and toddlers do best when they are cared for by their mother. It is also more likely to be true for women who have children currently in the home."

Where is he getting this alternative to the conventional media/political/cultural understanding of the world? Wilcox bases his analysis on the 2000 National Survey of Marriage and Family Life, which, he explains, "indicates that, among married mothers with children in the home under 18, only 18 percent of married mothers would prefer to work full-time; by contrast, 46 percent would prefer to work part-time, and 36 percent would prefer to stay at home. Clearly, the most popular option for married mothers is part-time work, whereas only about one-fifth of these mothers would prefer to work full time."

 

If it becomes tolerable, even in supposedly sophisticated circles, to admit the obvious - that men and women are fundamentally different - those numbers may even increase.

Feminists claim to be all about choice, yet many women in our feminist paradise seem to be doing what they really wouldn't choose to do, given other options. Most working women would like to work fewer hours and be home with their kids. According to Wilcox, "74 percent of married mothers who are working full-time would prefer to work fewer hours or not at all."

 

About half of American women, says Wilcox, are "adaptive": They "have interests in both work and family, and . . . they seek to scale back their work when they have children in the home - especially infants and toddlers. But when they don't have children, or their children are older, adaptive women are often interested in working outside the home on a full-time basis. So their orientation to work and family shifts over the life course, and according to the needs of their children." So they're not stay-at-home moms or working moms: They're women who do what's best for them and their families at a given time. They "don't fit the standard conservative stay-at-home model or the liberal full-time-working-woman model. For that reason, they are often invisible in media and academic debates about work and family."

 

Neither political party, says Wilcox, addresses these issues in a clear way. "This is particularly unfortunate when it comes to poor and working-class families, who are more likely to have wives and mothers working many more hours than they would like to. . . . Poor and working-class families are much more likely to break up than are affluent families, where women have more choices when it comes to juggling work and family," he says.

 

Like a woman who goes from the PTA to being mayor of Wasilla? Wilcox does see this adaptiveness in some of the women we've been seeing this cycle. He points to Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota, and Michele Bachmann in Minnesota. "These are candidates who have pursued a variety of work-family strategies in their effort to realize their dual commitments to family and public life over the years. And they don't fit neatly in any boxes," he says.

 

Wilcox tells me that "both parties could do a lot more to make it easier for women to realize their ideal work-family strategies by promoting public policies that encourage flexible work arrangements, dramatically expand the child tax credit, and add more off-ramps and on-ramps for women who are seeking to move out of or into the workforce."

 

Will this authentic view of womanhood usurp the old political archetypes of what women want? The conversation has begun to rise above self-identified feminists' assertions as to women's desires. May it continue and bear fruit. And, whoever wins or loses, this is a whole new playing field in politics, one that more accurately reflects who American women actually are and, yes, what they really want. The American woman wants to annihilate this idea that career is everything. She wants a life. She wants life. And she wants help in being adaptive, not pressure to be something she's not.

 

- Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at klopez@nationalreview.com. This column is available exclusively through United Media. For permission to reprint or excerpt it, please contact Carmen Puello at cpuello@unitedmedia.com.  August 30, 2010

 

Mother's Day. Every Day.

By Susan True

 

Caregiver, role model, instructor, nurse, problem solver, peacemaker, scheduler, chef and shoulder to lean on. These are just a few of the roles mothers and mother figures play. Mother's Day is a day for all of us to celebrate the mothers in our lives and the many roles they play, and to renew the commitment to make this special day occur much more often than just once a year.

 

Mother's Day is also an opportunity for mothers and mother figures to pause to reflect on what an amazing and life-changing experience raising children can be-and the wide variety of emotions that punctuate daily life.

 

Being a mother is rewarding and fulfilling yet can also be demanding, challenging and stressful. Mothers can sometimes feel they are expected to have all the answers, balance multiple demands and schedules, work, find time for their partner AND raise happy, resilient kids - often intuitively and without any additional support or resources.

 

However, the reality is that every mom can use a helping hand. While no one has yet developed a comprehensive instruction manual, positive parenting strategies can help.

 

Here are a few tips to consider as we celebrate Mother's Day:

 

Take care of yourself. At times, this idea can seem like a cliché or impossible to find the time to make it work. But taking time for yourself and looking after your own needs-both big ones and little ones-is essential. Everyone needs to have a balanced life. For most mothers, balancing the various roles (including the ones not directly related to being a mother) can be exhausting and stressful. Find time on a regular, scheduled basis to indulge in something you like and that feeds your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual needs. This could be as simple as sharing a coffee with a friend, going for a short walk around the block or simply taking a half hour to read the paper. You'd be surprised at how effective a simple break can be, leaving you recharged and ready to meet the day's challenges and opportunities.

 

Work as a team with your partner. Family life runs more smoothly when parenting tasks are divided and family and caregivers work together as a team. Talk with your partner about what you need and ways that you can offer each other practical and emotional support.

Learn new ways to manage daily routines. Be on the lookout for ways to simplify and streamline your daily routine. Doing so will help reduce stress and can help create more time in the day that can be dedicated to other priorities. Plus, children like consistent routines. For example, have your children wake at the same time and follow the same routine each day while getting ready. This helps your children learn what to expect, which can reduce the chance of unforeseen problems, and therefore reduces your stress.

 

Teach children the skills they need to be independent individuals. Have your children actively participate in the family's daily routines. Teach them the steps involved in tasks such as putting away toys, making their beds, cleaning their rooms or making their own school lunches. Give them descriptive praise and encouragement as they learn to do these tasks on their own. Not only does this help children learn valuable skills they will use throughout life, it will help you gain greater balance in your daily workload as a mother.

 

It's not surprising that motherhood is often said to be both the most rewarding and most challenging job of all. Positive parenting in many ways aims to help uncover the rewards and manage the challenges by providing strategies and tips to build better relationships with children, be better co-parents and partners, and become more confident as a parent.

Here's to a happy Mother's Day 2013-and the collective effort to make every day Mother's Day!

 

Susan True is the Executive Director of First 5 Santa Cruz County, which administers the Triple P - Positive Parenting Program. The Triple P is made available locally by First 5 Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (Mental Health Services Act) and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department. Triple P is scientifically proven and is the world's leading positive parenting program. For more information about Triple P, including classes and one-on-one meetings to help parents handle everyday parenting challenges, visit triplep.first5scc.org, www.facebook.com/triplepscc or www.youtube.com/triplepsantacruzco. To get a copy of the Triple P Pocket Guide for Parents or find a Triple P class or practitioner, contact Stephanie Bluford at 831-465-2217 or sbluford@first5scc.org

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

By Chiara Fucarino

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama

Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they ...


1. Don't hold grudges. Happy people understand that it's better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you'll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.


2. Treat everyone with kindness. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.


3. See problems as challenges. The word "problem" is never part of a happy person's vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.


4. Express gratitude for what they already have. There's a popular saying that goes something like this: "The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have." You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don't have.


5. Dream big. People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don't. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.


6. Don't sweat the small stuff. Happy people ask themselves, "Will this problem matter a year from now?" They understand that life's too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.


7. Speak well of others. Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.


8. Never make excuses. Benjamin Franklin once said, "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." Happy people don't make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.


9. Get absorbed into the present. Happy people don't dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they're doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.


10. Wake up at the same time every morning. Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.


11. Avoid social comparison. Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you're better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You'll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.


12. Choose friends wisely. Misery loves company. That's why it's important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.


13. Never seek approval from others. Happy people don't care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it's impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone's approval but your own.


14. Take the time to listen. Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others' wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.


15. Nurture social relationships. A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.


16. Meditate. Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don't have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.


17. Eat well. Junk food makes you sluggish, and it's difficult to be happy when you're in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body's ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.


18. Exercise.  Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.


19. Live minimally. Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.


20. Tell the truth. Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others' trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.


21. Establish personal control. Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don't let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one's own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.


22. Accept what cannot be changed. Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you'll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.


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