It’s been nearly 100 years since women in the U.S. were granted the right to vote and even longer since the original Suffragist movement began. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others are now resigned to the pages of social studies books and History Channel Women’s History Month specials.
But much of what Anthony, Stanton and their nineteenth/twentieth century contemporaries is still applicable today. Here are a few of their more famous quotes and why women could still follow that advice.
1. “I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” — Susan B. Anthony
In an age where in which women are staying single longer than ever before, Anthony’s quote touches on the importance of self-reliance. Whether it be protection in the physical sense or financially, women living independently know — or learn — to take care of themselves. When Anthony said this, it must’ve been a bit shocking to men in the mid-1800s to imagine a woman standing up for herself.
2. “Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”— Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Self-development and self-sacrifice are such general terms and can be applied to almost any aspect of a woman’s life in the 19th century. Women then were still starting to break into higher education, while dealing with pressure about their role in society was. The same can be applied today: more mothers want to work full-time than ever before. It’s a far cry from the days of women sacrificing their careers as soon as they became mothers.
3. “... for these years I can only be a mother —-- no trivial thing, either.” — Lucy Stone
It seems like too often full-time mothers are left out of the conversation of feminism and that motherhood isn’t considered a profession. Stone identifies an argument that is still going on today: can full-time moms be feminists? Looking at Stone’s track record and the contributions she made to the Suffragist Movement, they definitely can be both.
4. “While so much is said of the inferior intellect of woman, it is by a strange absurdity conceded that very many eminent men owe their station in life to their mothers.” — Matilda Joslyn Gage
Everyone has seen a protester with a sign that says “I didn’t come from your rib, you came from my vagina.” Gage’s quote, in modern terms, basically equates to this. In this day, it’s hard to find a man who didn’t have the influence of a woman growing up. While women aren’t necessarily still seen as less intelligent than men, there are still some conversations they seem to be partially excluded from. A more recent example is the opposition by some bishops to the Violence Against Women Act.
5. “If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it?.” — Sojourner Truth
This one is pretty self explanatory: if women want something, they should go after it: Just like they did in the 1800s and just like they’re still doing so today.