Women’s Center hosts Suffrage talk

Haley Russell
Assistant News Editor

The Women’s Center recently  hosted “Winning the Vote on the Road to Equality,” a first-ever panel to discuss the 72nd anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
The panelists, Kathy Callahan, Joshua Adair, Debbie Owens and Mary Tripp-Reed, spoke on the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Callahan, assistant professor of history, discussed the Women’s Suffrage movement in Britain and the effect it had on American women.
“Britain and the United States have always had a very close relationship,” Callahan said. “The relationship has always been tight and I think that this union of women that occurred in the late 1880s and the early part of the 20th century as they were working for the right to vote is a good example of Americans and (Britain’s) working together.”
In the United Kingdom, Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill were two major figures in Britain’s fight for women’s rights, Callahan said.
Callahan said they were integral to a fight that continues today.
Adair, assistant professor of English and philosophy and gender studies, continued the evening with descriptions and discussions of suffrage jewelry men and women wore to signify their support of the movement.
“In the early 1900s, one of the things that women started to do was to think about ways they make clear to other women, and men as well, that they were apart of the movement and so one of the things that they did was they started making this suffrage jewelry,” Adair said.
Adair showed snapshots of green, white and purple broaches and pins aimed at uniting women, he said.
The media played a big part in publicizing the protests and riots performed by this group of unified women, Owens, associate professor of journalism and mass media, said.
Political cartoons, Owens said, were a way in which media could give their opinions on the women’s suffrage movement. A positive or negative affect could be expressed, she said. She projected several different cartoons from the early 1900s, both condemning the movement and supporting it.
Tripp-Reed, economics and finance lecturer, spoke on the women’s rights activists in Kentucky.
One of the main supporters of the movement in Kentucky was Laura Clay, she said.
Clay was largely involved in the Kentucky Women’s Suffrage Association, on which she served as president. As apart of this association, Clay worked to obtain women’s equality by allowing them to manage their own income and have legal ties to their children, Tripp-Reed said.
Jane Etheridge, president of the Women’s Center, said in order to see further change over the next 72 years in the pursuit of complete equality, the Equal Rights Amendment needs to be passed.
“We need to pass the ERA,” Etheridge said. “It’s so simple, that we cannot discriminate based on sex. I mean, it’s a one-liner but we can’t pass it.”
The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923, failed to be ratified by the necessary 38 states. It was passed out of Congress in 1972 and is lacking three votes, according to the Equal Rights Amendment’s website.
At Murray State specifically, Etheridge said she wants students to realize the opportunities that open to them when they learn more about women’s history and other cultures.
“I want students to realize the opportunities they have to gain new information that can open doors for them,” she said. “To see the world in a much more comprehensive way, than just a narrow way.”
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