“The best protection any woman can have… is courage.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Women’s suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton was likely referring to the courage it takes to fight for the right to vote, as such a privilege would afford women the ability to join their society in deciding how their communities were governed. That wise quote, however, can be applied to a number of freedoms separate—yet closely related—to casting a ballot.

The courage to fight for what is now seen as such a basic right ended up in leveling the playing field, as the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920 was the first step in giving women the same power and responsibility as their male counterparts. Women earning the right to vote was just the beginning of the women’s rights movement that continues to progress in courtrooms, boardrooms, public areas and private spaces to this day. In today’s society, it is the norm for women to have the courage of their convictions, their decisions and certainly their choices.

While Stanton would not see the fruits of her labor as the leader of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States—she passed away 17 years before women were given the right to vote—her legacy lives on due to the feminist progress that happened both after and because of her work. Women today are empowered to make their own choices because of Stanton’s—and many other suffragettes’ and feminists’—determination.

100 Years of Choice

It’s been a century since the 19th Amendment was ratified, which prohibited the U.S. government from denying citizens the right to vote based on their sex. Since that milestone, women have made great strides across the board—advancing in all fields of industry, gaining additional rights relating to healthcare and education, and diversifying the makeup of our military and government. While these positive changes were happening, outdated ideas about women’s personal lives were eroding and stereotypes were being broken down—and over time, women became more and more empowered to make their own choices and live their lives how they see fit.

And that’s exactly what Seeking is celebrating with its commitment to 100 Years of Choice, as women have never been as empowered as now to make their own decisions—including their choices in who, when, where, why and how they date.

Choices in Dating

Since the groundbreaking work of the early suffragettes and women’s rights activists there has been monumental progress in the equality of the sexes. Women can now do and be anything that a man can—including how they meet their mates, partners, spouses, etc.

In the early 20th century women weren’t afforded these privileges. A woman asking a man out? No way. A woman going on a date without a chaperone? Out of the question. A woman dating more than one “gentleman caller” at the same time? It might have happened, but it definitely was taboo at the time. In the past century, a number of dating traditions and conventions have become outdated. Women in today’s world live in a much more liberated atmosphere, allowing them to date how they see fit.

Both in the dating realm and outside, it’s extremely clear that social thought surrounding a woman’s place, role, duties and expectations in society have definitely evolved since the 19th Amendment was passed. Is it a coincidence that such progress happened after women were seen as equal at the ballot boxes?

Choices in Education

Anyone who has cracked a history book (or seen the Julia Roberts flick Mona Lisa Smile) is quite aware that education was quite different for women up until the 1970s. There was a time in the United States wherein women could not even aspire to attending a university and gaining a degree from a higher education institution, as that privilege was saved solely for men. Of course, women’s colleges did pop up here and there, allowing the “fairer sex” something, well, “fair.”

Over time ideas began to change and schools opened up their enrollment to women. But going back to that Mona Lisa Smile reference, women attending certain colleges in the mid-mod era didn’t just take math, history and science courses. Some colleges also required homemaking and cotillion-focused classes, preparing young women for courtship and marriage life in addition to broadening their academic horizons.

Such ideas still persist today, but women today can study whatever and wherever they desire—without having to learn how to iron their man’s collared shirts. Such choices didn’t exist a century ago.

Choices in Career

While women still do not enjoy full equality with men in their careers in regards to pay, significant progress has been made in the workplace since they were granted the right to vote. Judicial decisions and social thought surrounding the subject both have influenced such change, but there is a long way to go.

To illustrate the change that still needs to be made, consider Equal Pay Day. Observed in 2020 on April 2, Equal Pay Day is the day that women have earned the same amount of pay that men received in the previous year. Studies today show that women receive only 80 cents to the dollar that men receive, which means they must work an additional four months and two days to earn what their male counterparts received on their paychecks in the previous year.

While this is the case, women have made important strides in many industries. The number of female CEOs and C-level executives continues to grow and female-owned businesses continue to sprout up and thrive.

Celebrating Women’s Choice

Only a few areas in which women have become empowered after receiving the right to cast a ballot have been touched on in this entry. A lot of progress has been made and there certainly is a long way to go. Seeking wants to celebrate that progress and highlight the work that needs to be done, which is why SA wants to spread the word about 100 Years of Choice.

Seeking is commemorating the official 100-year anniversary of a woman’s right to vote in the United States by telling stories of female empowerment, shining a light on women’s history and women’s rights throughout the decades and highlighting all of the progress that has allowed women to make their own choices.

Seeking is kicking off this celebration in the very month the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920—and the (political) party won’t stop then, as we’ll be paying tribute to the women’s rights movement through this November’s election.

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