Traverse City Record-Eagle

History

February 27, 2012

Terry Wooten: WWII and women's rights

Feb. 15th was the 192nd birthday of Susan B. Anthony, the champion of the women's suffrage movement during the 19th century. She was born precocious and learned to read and write at 3. Her father once pulled her out of school because girls weren't allowed to learn long division.

As a young woman, Susan fretted over her looks and feared public speaking. Later she became a powerful orator. She was a feminist long before the Civil War.

On Nov. 18, 1872, Susan was arrested for voting in the presidential election. The judge wouldn't allow her to speak in her own defense. He ordered the jury to declare her guilty, and read a statement he'd written before the trial. She was fined a hundred dollars, which she refused to pay.

Susan B. Anthony died March 13, 1906. Fourteen years later the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote.

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) is another of my favorite women. She dared to be a warrior in the Hundred Years' War. Charges against her were for being too spiritually creative, dressing like a man and sassing her elders (all men, of course). She was burned at the stake.

Like all wars, World War II was one of the great tragedies in world history, but a major side effect was a forward shift in women's rights. I think Susan and Joan would have been proud of Rosie the Riveter.

Throughout history, women have been discriminated against. The gender war, especially in certain parts of the world continues.

March is Women's Herstory Month. To celebrate the leap, here are three women's voices from my Elders Projects.

Audrey Kaiser

One big change that happened

during the war

was girls started wearing pants to school.

Women were working in factories

and doing men's work.

Times were changing.

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