Happy Women’s History Month. Let’s take a look at the “suffragents,” an overlooked group from history that raises questions for women today.
Opposition to equal rights was an important consideration during the first wave of the women’s rights movement in the United States. The liquor movement was one such source. And there were many others, including women and men themselves. The unequal social and economic system is a fact of life impacting many more individuals and organizations than women at the present time.
There’s a book out by Brooke Kroeger (published in 2017) that studies the involvement of men allies in the first wave of the women’s rights movement. When reading to the very end of The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote, the author suggests that the involvement of men in the first wave turned out to be important.
Kroeger suggests that there isn’t anything comparable today in terms of men building support for the Equal Rights Amendment and other issues on a large scale. One factor mentioned by votes for women activists of a different era boiled down to opposition based on “deeply entrenched attitudes about the nature and role of women.”
The book about the men allies raises important questions, especially the author’s mention that a men’s support network like 100 years ago doesn’t exist today. She brings up other important questions, such as—
“Was their participation as ‘suffragents’ lost in recall because of the fullness of the subsequent twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years in most of their lives? Or was the downplaying deliberate, a postchivalrous response to obscure their role in the great women’s epic, as good allies should; that certainly has been the effect. It would be consistent that the men preferred to be in the historical shadows…”
Anyone studying the men’s movement today finds both support and opposition by men. These and other questions persist during Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on why today the men’s movement today is divided. And this goes for the women’s equal rights movement as well.
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