Both Kuhlman and Woodworth-Ney note that there was no pattern in the way that different nations around the world introduced women’s suffrage. However, Woodworth-Ney does note that there was a pattern within the American West to the way that this right to vote was granted. Kuhlman discusses the definition of nation and of nationhood being one that was decided upon by white men, a “fraternity”.
The fraternity of the American West, Woodworth-Ney states, was attempting to be seen as “more egalitarian” than the rest, by allowing women the right to vote. Both professors note the fact that this was a problematic part of the women’s suffrage movement, that the very fact that women had to be “allowed” to participate in the activities of a nation meant that they were still inherently seen as “lesser” and occupying a space that was not their own, but rather carved out of a larger more problematic space still very tightly regulated by patriarchal systems. The granting of suffrage to women therefore was not as big a step in women’s history as it might be reflected upon as.
Kuhlman also discusses the idea that women became politicized through the process of suffrage and the granting thereof. There was then a basis for the beginning of the process of having women becoming equal to men. As women became politicized, so then did women’s issues. Issues that were before seen as private and domestic issues (the purity of milk etc.) were becoming part of a larger political discussion. However, there were many examples given in which that women still did not (and do not) have full equality with men.
Chilean women, for example, were granted suffrage in 1949 but domestic violence laws were not passed until 1994. Kuhlman believes that suffrage was an important beginning to the equality journey but did not offer full equality to women. In the United States, still, there is a pay-gap between men and women with equal credentials in the same job. The gap is still around 20%, meaning that a man will be paid 20% more per year than a woman simply because he is a man. Kulman also noted that at the time that women in Germany, for example, were offered the right to vote, many of them were illiterate, given that they did not have the same access to education as men at the time, and therefore the process of engaging with democracy by voting, though they now legally could, was still difficult to exact.
Woodworth-Ney notes that the egalitarianism of the American West ended with the “threat” of the Black vote. Granting women suffrage, it was believed, would lead to black people being granted similar, and at the time in America, this was not something that was desirable. Foner discusses this in his text. It was a lot later in the time scale that black people were allowed the vote. The reason that many countries around the world, and many states in the US were so reluctant to grant suffrage to women was for this very fact. The patterns on the map show a connection between laws regarding the treatment of blacks and other non-white minorities in a nation and the time they finally granted suffrage to women.
The granting of suffrage to women was a revolutionary idea, given the examples of these professors. Although, in retrospect it seems an obvious thing to have all people in a nation or a society engaging in that nation or society by way of voting for the systems of government that ultimately rules over them. However this view is not necessarily held by all people and was certainly not held at the time. The revolutionary idea that women were “people” too took many years of suffering and fighting to achieve and still there are huge imbalances between men and women, and further imbalances still between men and women who are white and those that are not.