The New Woman of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and What We Can Learn from Them

by Alexandra Malmed

 
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We know, generally, what the Women’s Suffrage Movement was about—a time of wild empowerment during which women were given the right to vote. 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the movement, and in honor of this time, We the Women is focusing on The New Woman of the time—and what we can learn from the brave, honorable people who fought for our rights and put us in the positions of privilege that we’re now entitled to as women.

So, who exactly was “The New Woman?” The New Woman of the Suffrage Movement was a middle-class archetype that burst on the popular culture scene in 1890. She was bold, outspoken, and active. She set herself apart from other women by way of her fiercess, her confidence, and her spark.

As with many women today—those in politics, those who act as leaders, CEO’s, etc—power women—The New Woman was urban, powerful, and unafraid of taking action what she wanted. She dressed differently than other women, supported women, and did not allow for the past to hold her back. There is a new wave of The New Woman today, and We the Women is honored to work, connect with, and interview examples of such weekly.

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As we move forward and embark on a new century of women’s political engagement, there are numerous lessons that we can learn from—a key few of which we’ve listed here.

The power of persistence—Woman suffragists worked and fought for their rights for seventy two years before the 19th Amendment passed. As with all things of importance in life—work, relationships, self improvement—persistence is key. There will always be times of discouragement in life, and it’s necessary to stay strong and power on. In a line, she persists. And it’s important that we do so, too.

The importance of bravery—that in life which is worth fighting for can also be terrifying. Everything in life can be terrifying. Every aspect of life is multifaceted. It is important that we don’t cling to our fears—and instead allow for them to help us and protect us, as much as possible, and act with courage.

The power of alliances—As human beings, we do not all agree on everything—but we do and can agree upon a lot of things. It’s important to remove ourselves from the things that we disagree on, which will always be there, and to instead focus on that which we agree on in order to reach our goals.

The importance of speaking up and taking action—the campaign for the women’s right to vote was sustained by women who spoke in public at a time when doing so was, literally, dangerous. We were lucky enough to be born with the right to vote, but this does not mean that our work is done. Given our rights, it’s necessary that we continue to speak and continue to fight for that which we believe in—as a community, a gender, and as individuals.

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