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Why Suffrage for American Women Was Not Enough

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"Why Suffrage for American Women was not Enough"

By Elizabeth Perry

The year of 1992 was labeled as "The Year of the Woman." Women worked to gain their right to vote and did in 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment. They gained a lot of political experience, but this did not end discrimination. Women were meant to help elect men but not run themselves, and women accepted women accepted these separate roles. This acceptance came from comfort within their own sex, suspicion of electoral politics, or not wanting competition.

Belle Lindner Moskowitz was an effective social and industrial reformer. She supported Alfred E. Smith for governor. She was the only woman on the Democratic Party executive committee and became a "nationally known political figure." Her fame relied on his, and when he lost the presidency, her "career was eclipsed with his."

Franklin Roosevelt's wife, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, was even more famous than Moskowitz. She became active in woman's organizations to keep her husband's name alive while he was ill. She wrote articles and talked on the radio. She became well known, and after her husband's death she could of ran and won office, but that's not what women did.

Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold cabinet rank. She too worked for Al Smith's election. She accepted a job as State Industrial Commissioner. Even though she accomplished a lot, "gender stereotypes and constraints of her time prevailed."

Mary W. Dewson was the superintendent of Probation, Secretary of the Massachusetts Commission, and then moved to national politics. She organized women workers and was essential to the Democratic Party's success. All these women pursued political goals and could be in politics, but "the battle was uphill." Also, women got easily discouraged.

The constraints that held those women back have made an appearance today. It's seen in the controversies surrounding Hilary Clinton. Questions were asked like "Who's in charge here?" Women in the 1920s probably suffered a lot more then today if still today first ladies cannot have an authoritative role without questioning.

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