Susan B. Anthony – A Woman Who Broke The Golden Silence
Silence is golden, speech is silver. This proverb suggests it is worth more to remain silent than it is to speak. It was an expression I was often told when I was young. However, as I grew up, I realised, silence means acceptance. Acceptance that your beliefs have no impact on the world around you and your own voice is insignificant. For centuries, women have been compelled to accept silence; forced to be powerless and forced to fear challenging the status quo. In this essay I am going to talk about one woman who dared to break the golden silence, to voice her beliefs and share her vision to change the world. By standing up for what she believed was right, Susan Brownwell Anthony was able to propel the women’s suffrage movement which led to the rights for women to vote.
Imagine applying for a job, knowing you have the full capabilities and experience needed to succeed, only to be turned down, not because you were inexperienced or unqualified, but because you were a female. This sounds quite unfair, but this was the reality for women living in the 19th century, with only 10 percent of free women holding jobs in 1840. The unequal treatment between men and women was an issue that Susan felt very strongly about, and she dedicated her life fighting against discrimination against women. Women have located control in a variety of ways throughout history in their endeavour towards rectitude and equality. In 1868 she published her first newspaper, ‘The Revolution’ which included the motto “Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.” Although the publication only lasted for four years, it was significant in providing Susan with a voice presenting key concerns in society from a female perspective. She travelled the world, spreading knowledge, giving speeches, forming the New York State Women’s Rights Committee and giving women a voice. Susan spoke out for an abundance of causes including women’s rights, rights of labour, discrimination, and equal pay for equal work.
Susan protested for her rights knowing her fight for equality was more important than her fear of being mocked, taunted or even arrested. She became known as one of the most zealous advocates of the movement, working tirelessly and at the same time, being the prime target of public and newspaper abuse. In 1872, she was arrested for her actions and was fined 100 dollars for her crime of voting in the Presidential Election. Further, despite her bravery, she was accosted by aggressive mobs and was frequently threatened. Ultimately, her ideas remained controversial during her time, with many people reluctant to accept that the issues she was presenting were significant. Freedom of speech was virtually unheard of for women in the 19th century, and even though Susan devoted her entire life towards achieving this, she was unable to witness major accomplishments in the women’s rights movement as they occurred after her time.
Although Susan’s struggle for female rights was unable to bring momentous change during her life, her vision and intrepidity to share her voice made a lasting impact beyond her time, with women still fighting to be heard today. Her work led to the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 which finally gave women the right to vote and was named the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” for the deal of vernation from her success. Further, in 1979, she became the first woman to appear on a U.S. coin, exhibiting the immense legacy her actions have had. More than 100 years later Susan B. Anthony still influences women of all ages.
We remember Susan as stoic and resolute in her convictions, unafraid to break the silence and refusing to accept the status she was given as a woman. Her voice opened the gateway for millions of women worldwide to speak up and inspired future generations of women who learned that the catalyst for change came from her sacrifice. Even in contemporary society, women continue to fight for equal pay, against domestic violence and strive to work together with men to achieve a balance between work and family life. The preponderance of the influence in females has progressively developed through the prehistoric and primitive periods in history. By gaining more beneficial and eminent meaning through the eras, women as a societal gender have increasingly progressed from being seen as items of maternity, to later be viewed as functioning and prospering individuals of society.
Sometimes, speech is golden, empowering and necessary for change. By returning to historical women and capturing their experiences, we are able to understand the dominant patriarchal discourse. This is what drove women like Susan to overcome their fear of being silenced and transform their fear into motivation. The significance of her impact can be seen in contemporary society, with most women unafraid to voice their beliefs. There was a rigid dichotomy between the power between men and women, however, she began the change from a patriarchal society to a democratic society. Silence is not invariably golden. Remaining silent because you are afraid may cost you your gold.