The subject of Unit 6, Lesson 20 in our embedded eCampus textbook is a period of intense political, economic, and social reform: The Progressive Era. One of the signal reforms of the period was the 1

The subject of Unit 6, Lesson 20 in our embedded eCampus textbook is a period of intense political, economic, and social reform: The Progressive Era. One of the signal reforms of the period was the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitutionwhich guarantees women the right to vote. Nearly a century later, issues of income inequality, institutional glass-ceilings, sexual violence, affordable day-care, and media-driven body shaming animate today’s feminist discourse.

Oddly, our online textbook does not address the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. For context, I would like you to read the short segment found in The American Yawp  (Chapter 20, Section III, “Women’s Movements,” near midpoint of section) that summarizes the woman suffrage movement known to historians as “first-wave feminism.” The word “suffrage” means the right to vote in political elections. Women involved in the movement were called “suffragists.” You may access this short text through the preceding link or find it in a PDF document available at the link below. The American Yawp text is brief but makes clear the issue of voting rights for women involved not only questions of gender, but race and class as well which speaks to the complexity of historical analysis and interpretation. The text also mentions two women who participated as leaders in the woman-suffrage movement; one of them is Alice Paul

Who is Alice Paul?

Alice Stokes Paul (b. 1885, d. 1977) was an American suffragist and feminist. Her organizing efforts contributed directly to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In January 1917, Alice Paul and over 1,000 American suffragists began eighteen months of picketing the White House. They endured verbal and physical attacks from spectators, which increased after the US entered World War I. Instead of protecting the women’s right to free speech and peaceful assembly, the police arrested them on the flimsy charge of obstructing traffic.

The American Yawp has this to say about Paul: “Meanwhile, a new, more militant, suffrage organization emerged on the scene. Led by Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party took to the streets to demand voting rights, organizing marches and protests that mobilized thousands of women. Beginning in January 1917, National Woman’s Party members also began to picket the White House, an action that led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 women.”

Paul herself received a prison sentence of seven months. Once in prison, she organized a hunger strike in protest. Doctors threatened to send Paul to an insane asylum and force-fed her, while newspaper accounts of her treatment garnered public sympathy and support for suffrage. By 1918, President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for suffrage. It took two more years for the Senate, House, and the required 36 states to approve the amendment.

What are your thoughts?

Please proceed with the Discussion Board Forum 2 assignment in this way:

  • Read the short text from The American Yawp about American woman suffrage (online at Chapter 20, Section III, “Women’s Movements,” near midpoint of section or see the PDF document in the folder below).
  • Consider the photographs (posted below) of Paul and some of her defenders.
  • View the 15-minute YouTube segment (link below) from the 2004 movie titled Iron Jawed Angels starring Hillary Swank as Alice Paul.
    • The YouTube segment dramatizes Paul’s arrest in front of the White House, and her subsequent incarceration during which she was force fed in an effort to end the hunger strike she led involving dozens of other suffragists imprisoned with her.
    • The gripping visual portrayal is a brutal reminder of the struggles endured by American women to gain the right to vote.
  • Having read the text, considered the images, and viewed the Iron Jawed Angels YouTube video segment, navigate to Discussion Board Forum 2 – Iron Jawed Angels and respond to this question: Based on your reading, your YouTube viewing, your own life-experiences, and the knowledge you have gained, what is the current state of feminism in America? In responding, think about what American feminism has accomplished. Is it currently making a lot of progress, or is the movement perhaps stagnant? Does American feminism still have a lot to accomplish, or has it perhaps gone too far?
  • FYI, feminism may be defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes
  • After you respond to the question within the forum I created, review the posts of your fellow group-members within the same forum and reply to at least one.

20. The Progressive Era







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