If you’ve never read the full text of “The Declaration of Sentiments,” I highly encourage you to do so. It holds some of the most powerful words I’ve ever read.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton lists many of the grievances committed against women in the United States:
- Withholding the right to vote
- Holding her accountable to a law she did not agree to
- Withholding rights given to even the most despicable men
- Taking away her voice
- Giving everything she owns to her husband
- Withholding the right to earn money
- Giving such power to her husband that he has ultimate authority over her
- Disallowing her to file for divorce
- In the event of divorce, disregarding her wishes or the children’s best interests
- Taxing her to support a government that doesn’t support her
- Withholding from her most forms of employment, and especially those of a highly regarded nature
- Refusing her access to higher education
- Refusing to acknowledge and support her spiritual giftings in the church
- Upholding a double standard against her
- Assuming the ability to decide what her dreams, abilities, and accomplishments might be
- “He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”
That last is the most powerful one to me. It’s heartening, and it’s sad, to look at this list. I see how far we’ve come, and I’m so glad. But I see many women who are still so hopeless, so dejected, so resigned to allowing others to define their lives. I see women who allow a magazine or a TV show or a celebrity to tell her she’s not good enough. I see women who compete with each other, for unclear reasons. I see women who think their gifts are not good enough for the God who gave them to her.
Believe it or not, I’ve actually had people say to me, “Why do you care so much about women? What’s the big deal? You have the right to vote…” I would laugh if it weren’t so common to meet people with this opinion. Clearly, the work is not done.
The women of the Seneca Falls Convention are my heroines. They fought boldly for what they knew was right. But the work is not done. We still need to fight for the girls being aborted in China and India. We still need to fight for the victims of sexual violence in war zones. We still need to fight for the victims of rape and abuse. We still need to fight for the girls who are picked on and bullied. We still need to fight for the girls who aren’t allowed an education. We still need to fight for the girls who are told, “Well, you shouldn’t have worn that skirt.” We still need to fight for the women who are told, “God doesn’t want you to lead.”
To that end, I want to introduce you to some women who are my IRL (in real life) heroines. They started The Junia Project, an organization dedicated to inspiring women to love God and embrace the gifts and roles He has given her. I have the honor of being part of this wonderful group of women, and I want you to be part of it, too.
*You don’t have to be a woman. Men, know that every woman you love is affected by the grievances listed above. Fight for her.
There’s so much work to do, but this is a good place to start.