The Pivotal Right
"Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over."
-Bella Abzug, Congresswoman 1971-1977
Clifford Berryman's 1909 cartoon (upper right hand corner) shows a group of enraged male congressmen, upset that the female representative in front of them is obstructing their view with her ridiculously large hat. While humorous, this cartoon is suggestive of deep-rooted societal anxieties about handing over voting power to American women.
Following the American Revolution, women were only allowed the right to vote in the state of New Jersey. By 1807, women in all states were refused suffrage.
In the mid nineteenth century, women used their experience as abolitionists and temperance advocates to organize and fight for the right to vote. Suffragist Susan B. Anthony referred to voting as the “pivotal right,” one that would not be secured until 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Today, American women still fight for equal rights in such arenas as the workplace.