What Were the Major Issues That Caused These Women to Move into a Public Sphere and Take to the Streets?
Women were being treated as second class citizens being exploited in the workplace. Even though they may be considered unskilled, they were being paid a low rate working twelve- or thirteen-hour days. These women were working in unhealthy conditions, and they wanted the men to act to make changes. They moved to strive for equal pay, better hours, and same treatment, and the public strike allowed them to be seen and for once, heard. The women wanted equal representation, overtime pay for their long hours, and just treatment. The women moved into the public sphere for liberty, equality, and opportunity. The minorities fought against racism and a society that accepted lynching as a social norm. They fought for safety and the basics of human rights. The females lived in a community that felt they were best suited to remain in the private sphere, sheltered by their husbands, fathers, or brothers. They wanted to make a living that was considered adequate for their work and fair compared to others. The females wanted an opportunity to get a better education and pursue a profession. They wanted to have a voice in local and governmental decisions. The women wanted to be able to vote in elections. These individuals faced discrimination and unnecessary hardship, and they believed that taking their grievances to a public forum would encourage America to do the right thing.
What Evidence Do You See in These Photos That the Women of This Era Were Transitioning from the Constraints of the Private Sphere (Which Included the Demands of Domesticity and Respectability) into the Public Sphere?
The women, up until this point, were submissive and accepted their role in the home to care for the children and the house. It was unheard of for women to speak in public forums unless it was a gender-specific purpose. In fact, women were not allowed to attend meetings, that was considered man’s place. However, the females slowing started to make their way into the workplace; yet they still were seen but not heard. These photos show women who are well-dressed and unified in their desire to have a voice. They do so with significant resistance, and even faced physical violence from the men who opposed their stepping outside of their domestic role. The signs screamed their demands, and their unification showed society that they were no longer willing to remain in the private sphere. The crowds that gathered to watch these women appeared to be larger than the demonstration, only showing the public approach was raising awareness of the fact that women were no longer complacent with inequality. The women carried flags to show that they too are an American and they should be able to participate in the political spheres. The unification showed that the suffrage movement was growing and that women were growing in numbers and their presence was speaking louder than words.
Why Were These Public Demonstrations Considered Such Radical Actions?
The public demonstration was considered radical actions because they were showing dissent. Women were submissive up to this point, and their efforts were drastic. It was not just a hand full of women who no longer allowed their voice to be stifled; it was hundreds of thousands across the nation who were taking drastic actions to express an important message. Essentially, their significant presence forced state legislators, members of Congress, and President Woodrow Wilson to support the passage of the 19th Amendment. The public actions were a new approach for females, and they felt that street is speaking, parades, pageants, mass meetings, and demonstrations were a better way to achieve change over the past approach of petitioning and lobbying. Women joined together, outside of the house, to show their disdain for their humane treatment. They knew they would face police force, violence and even legal repercussions. The females were arrested and beaten by the crowd of bystanders, but they went into this public demonstration knowing the risks. The approach was considered primitive, and in most cases, the women were not a part of this type of action. However, as time progressed and the awareness of inequality continued to fuel these women, their efforts grew more radical. Joining forces to appeal to a male-dominated society required them to participate in public demonstrations.
What do These Photos tell us About the Success or Failure at Navigating the Public Sphere?
The photos tell a story about both success and failure that the women had at navigating the public sphere. In the photo 8.1, the women joined together with big hats, but at the bottom was hand drawn a picture where the men were beating the female protestors. It shows the danger and mostly a threat to those who decided to participate in the public sphere. It can be considered a failure because the entire purpose appeared to be undermined by male society. Photo 8.2 shows the clear message that women were expressing about their work environment, but the number of participants seemed to be small, demeaning their presence. It could be considered an unsuccessful attempt to navigate the public sphere. The first photo that appears to show a successful approach is number 8.3. A large number of women dressed in white filled the streets drawing large crowds as they walked. It represented young and old protesters, all joining for their right to be heard and to demand change. Photo 8.4 also appears to be a successful attempt to navigate the public sector. The group of women, holding the flags, surrounded by bystanders who are hearing what they are saying. Photo 8.5 was a small group presentation, at the nation’s capital. It was a successful attempt to address the president with the large signs clearly stating their demands and appeal for social equality.
- Waxman, Olivia B. “Silent Parade, East Saint Louis Riots and Civil Rights.” Time. July 28, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2018. http://time.com/4828991/east-saint-louis-riots-1917/.