Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26: Women's Suffrage Day

Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Coming in the aftermath of World War I, women's suffrage was a result of the key role that women played in the war, their work in the factories and their active participation in the war effort. In September 1918, a speech by President Wilson revealed that he was behind the movement to give women the vote:

We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of right?

In 1919 the House of Representatives passed a proposed amendment by a vote of 304 to 90. Then in June 1919, the U. S. Senate voted 56 to 25, sending the amendment to the states.

The fight for ratification was not easy. Thirty-six states had to vote yes before it became a full-fledged amendment, and there was substantial opposition to the amendment, especially in the South.

On August 18, 1920, in a close vote, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. The 19th Amendment was then made official in Washington, D.C. on August 26, 1920:

Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Today's Challenge: Puttin' It to the Man
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) of Purdue University has a number of guidelines for non-sexist language. One particularly sticky area is the generic use of MAN. For example, because many women deliver mail for the post office, using the term postman as a generic term for all workers is inappropriate; a better choice is postal worker or mail carrier. Given a number of terms below that contain the generic MAN, see if you can come up with a suitable alternative that is more inclusive.

1. mankind

2. man's achievements

3. man-made

4. the common man

5. man the stockroom

6. nine man-hours

7. businessman

8. fireman

9. steward or stewardess

10. congressman

Word of the Day: disinfranchise (verb) - deprived of the rights of citizenship especially the right to vote

Quote of the Day: Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. --Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)

Write: If you were to make a change to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? Explain your reasoning.

Answers: 1. humanity, people, human beings 2. human achievements 3. synthetic, manufactured, machine-made 4. the average person, ordinary people 5. staff the stockroom 6. nine staff-hours 7. business executive 8. firefighter 9. flight attendant 10. congressional representative

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