Women In Politics Essay Research Paper During

Women In Politics Essay, Research Paper

During the revolutionary era, American leaders decided to use economic boycotts in their

struggle against Britain. The goal of these boycotts was to stop the purchase of imported goods

(which could only be purchased from England). For this to be successful, women would have to

increase the production of homespun while finding a way to do without certain products that could

not be obtained locally. This gave women’s domestic roles political significance. The success

of this political tactic rested on the shoulders of women. Their participation in politics, even

in this slight way, produced a change in the way women thought of themselves. Prior to the

revolutionary era, should a woman had made a comment about politics, she would instantly

apologize for her ‘mistake’. Women no longer thought of themselves as excluded from politics.

They began to discuss politics widely. The discussion of politics among women soon led to

political participation outside of domestic roles. A trend started by Esther Reed, women’s

groups started collecting money. This money was collected for the sole purpose of being donated

to the American war effort. The money was greatly needed and accepted with much gratitude by

General Washington. Female political participation would not stop there. In 1790, New Jersey

adopted an election law referring to voters as “he or she”, thereby giving women the right vote

more than a century before the 19th amendment would be added to the constitution. For the first

time women could actively participate in politics. Not just by discussion or donations. Women

had the ability to effect the outcome of an election. The American leaders who had proposed the

economic boycotts had no idea what they had started. Women’s roles would never be the same.

Even though women’s roles had changed through the course of the revolution, the men were

still reluctant to acknowledge any sort of equality. The revolutionary era had thrown political

importance on the domestic duties of women, but it had not changed them. The women were only

asked to do what they had previously done. They were not asked to step outside of the feminine

boundaries which had confined them before. Only now the importance was recognized. The

discussion of politics slowly became socially acceptable. Other political acts were given

feminine characteristics in order to rationalize the fact that women were responsible for them.

When the women’s groups contributed money to the war effort, it was used to purchase shirts for

the soldiers. The argument was that one of the woman’s domestic responsibilities was sewing. So

in using the money to purchase shirts, Washington had changed a non-feminine act into one that

was feminine. The women’s suffrage that briefly occurred in New Jersey was not due to a strong

commitment to the principle of equality by the men. It was due to the fact that there was a

loophole in the New Jersey constitution. The women were eventually disenfranchised. The

revolutionary era may have broken down the barrier confining women from politics, but it did not

declare that male and female roles should be the same. A woman’s public role was located in her

feminine domestic responsibilities. The revolutionary era only opened up new ideas which would

later grow into the women’s rights movement.


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