December 1st, 2014
For our final assignment in Poetry: An Introduction to Poetry and Drama, we were instructed to come up with our own prompt for a paper that revolved around two poems we read and to do something with them. I want to write and research a little about gender inequality in the United States, an issue I become extra familiar with during high school. I attended Laurel, an all girls private school for my high school education where I was exposed to a assemblage of diverse people heavily populated by feminists of varying degrees, including most of the male teachers. It was after spending four years with over five hundred individualistic, free-spirited women that I learned how important it is to acknowledge the past struggles women have triumphed over so that I will be ready for those I know I will face in the future. Laurel's motto is “Dream. Dare. Do.”; three words to inspire and encourage young minds to do great things. These three words can also describe obstacles that women have faced in the past and what we still have yet to overcome in the present and the future. Laurel's Value Statement is, “Committed to building a just and inclusive world, Laurel girls are courageous, creative, ethical and compassionate.” The first part, “a just and inclusive world” speaks for everything that Laurel instills in their students; it is referring to our duty to stand up and fight for our rights as independent women and to speak up for others facing the same injustices. It is due to these reasons that I chose to center my paper around a summary of two feminist poets' personal lives and analysis’s of their poems Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry For That Word by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Women by Louise Bogan, in conjunction with an observation of historical events leading up to and following the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Louise Bogan and Edna St. Vincent Millay both lived during a pinnacle point in history in the early 20th century, a time period that really got the ball rolling on abolishing the idea of differentiating gender roles in American society and began ushering in women's suffrage. Starting as early as the late 19th century, women were beginning to deviate from their typical roles in the home and began working their way into 'hard labor' workforces, the armed forces and even the government, attaining the same status as men and holding the same responsibilities in the United States. Women's suffrage began in 1848 with the earliest record of women protesting gender inequality at a women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, led by Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott. It was there that the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, was drafted and became the first ever document lobbying for women's suffrage. In the years leading up to the ratification of the Amendment several women managed to acquire positions of political power at the city or state level, though never any equivalent to a government status. Government employment was, and still is today, seen as an office that only men are fit to hold positions in, no women would be strong enough to bear the responsibilities that come with holding such a high position of power.
The 19th Amendment, which states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote based upon sex, was forty years in the making before it was presented in front of Congress in 1878; though it was voted against after a nine year contemplation by Congress. The amendment resurfaced to all of the governmental departments of the judicial system again several times over the next few decades, though always falling just a couple votes shy of approval. It wasn't for another thirty-two years later that President Woodrow Wilson brought it in front of the House of Representatives on May 19th, 1919 that it finally passed. This movement was a turning point for women; from that point on