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National women's hall of fame in Seneca Falls

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A Recipe for Equal Rights

The organized movement for equal rights began right here
-- 2-5 women, preferably strong-willed and resolved;
-- ˝ lb. of sympathetic newspapers;
-- A dash of patience;
-- A pinch of eloquence;
-- Hundreds of people (prone to change & risky behavior);
-- Determination to taste.

Mix all the women together and let sit for 10 days. Next, add hundreds of people and the sympathetic newspapers, over a period of 2 to 3 days. At the same time, blend the patience and eloquence (use highest possible setting). Finish off with determination . Bake for at least 100 years (possibly more) at high temperature. Serves an entire country.

Special Directions:
Although this recipe takes a long time to cook, parts of it can be served as it gets done. Do not attempt to serve all at once, otherwise the top will burn and will have to be thrown away. Occasionally, batter may sag or grow moldy. In that case, add more determination (as much as is available) and women. We recommend young women from future generations for a better taste of education and self-awareness (which adds a unique flavor to the dish).

How to Find Ingredients:
Visit Seneca Falls, NY -- the birthplace of organized grass-roots movement for women's rights - for inspiration. There you'll come across the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M'Clintock and Jane Hunt. Elizabeth and Lucretia are quite well known and have been used successfully in other recipes, but their fame began with this one. In 1848, they held the First Women's Rights Convention at what was then the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, ten days after first talking about it. They placed ads in two papers, including Frederick Douglass's abolitionist circular, the North Star, inviting people to participate. On July 19 and 20, 1848, about 300 men and women did.

Next, study the Declaration of Sentiments , a document drafted by the five women and read at the start of the convention by Elizabeth. It claims that men tried to control women as King George once tried to control the colonies. It lists several grievances based on the Declaration of Independence, and denounces inequities in property rights, education, employment, religion, marriage and family, and suffrage. At the time, women were not allowed to go to college , own property, vote, work (except in a few "made for women" jobs), have custody of their children or perform jury duty (among other things). It called for women to be given "an immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States." The Declaration of Sentiments was hotly debated for two days, but in the end, it passed intact and was signed by 100 people - 68 women and 32 men.

If determination is in short supply, learn about the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was born in 1815, at a time when women didn't dream of being able to own property, much less vote, run for office or graduate from college. She heard her father lament, "Oh my daughter - I wish you were a boy," but instead of letting her circumstances determine her life, she rallied, wrote, read, proclaimed, protested, and fought to change them. She was a staunch advocate of the suffrage clause in the Declaration , even though most of the conference's participants thought it too controversial. She found strength in others who also believed in women's rights, but more importantly, she found strength in herself.

Elizabeth - master chef!
Shop for allies and sympathizers. Elizabeth and Lucretia were also part of the abolitionist movement, which, on the whole, supported women's rights. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and one of the most famous abolitionists, attended the Seneca Falls convention and publicly seconded Elizabeth's motion for the right of women to vote. Afterwards, he agreed to print the Declaration of Sentiments and distribute it throughout the nation. His newspaper also wrote, on August 11, 1848: "We hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go further, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for woman… our doctrine is that 'right is of no sex.' We therefore bid the women engaged in this movement our humble God speed."

Daphne mingles among the participants of the Convention
As the Declaration swept the country, so did the number of women's conventions. Several were held during the 1850s, including the first national women's rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. <> Advocates and friends of the movement are like self-raising flour: once you add them to the mix, they will rise on their own .


I've been driving through the Northeast for the past 3 weeks...

Suggestions for Improvement
Not everyone likes the idea of equal rights. Many who don't like it have never tried it - they are wary of the ingredients and afraid to taste it. After the convention, several newspapers condemned the participants and their demands. The Public Ledger of September 26, 1848 wrote: "A woman is nobody. A wife is everything . A pretty girl is equal to 10,000 men and a mother is, next to God, all powerful. The ladies of Philadelphia, therefore…are resolved to maintain their rights as wives, belles, virgins and mothers and not as women." On August 1, 1848, the Rochester Democrat opined that: "This great effort seemed to bring out some new, impracticable, absurd and ridiculous proposition and the greater its absurdity the better."

If the taster rejects the recipe, do not despair or throw the batter out. Keep in mind Elizabeth's comments to Lucretia, upon hearing the negative comments: "It will start women thinking and men too, and when men and women think about a new question, the first step in progress is taken. " If necessary, add more determination and convince some people to try a bite. Those who like it can also be thrown in the mix.

Patience may be hard to find, but it is a key ingredient and must be included. Impatient cooks might give up if the dish is taking too long, which will unfortunately ruin the entire thing and force other women to start from scratch. If bits and pieces cook first, serve those and continue baking. In 1860, 12 years after the Seneca Falls convention, Elizabeth and Lucretia worked successfully to amend the Married Women's Property Act of New York. The revised law allowed wives to hold property, keep earning and inheritances, make contracts, sue in court and share child care custody. The right to vote, however, wouldn't be ready to eat until 1920, 18 years after Elizabeth died.

Girls soaking up Elizabeth's spirit in front of her house
Quotes from Satisfied Cooks:
"At first we traveled quite alone …but before we had gone many miles we came on other wagon-loads of women bound in the same direction. As we reached different cross-roads we saw wagons coming from every part of the country, and long before we reached Seneca Falls we were a procession." (Charlotte Woodward, 1848)

"If men start with the idea that woman is an inferior being …they will write history in accordance with such views, and, whatever may be the facts, they will be interpreted to suit them." (Caroline Dall, Massachusetts 1858)

"I do share a special connection with some of the women from 1848 because I am aware of what happened; aware of the history…I moved my business here because I wanted it to have a feminist address. When we had the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention, we made a T-shirt that said '150 Years and Still Fighting' ." (Becky Bly, Seneca Falls 2000)

"Being a feminist means that I care about women and I care about women's position within society…I think we're making progress, but I think that women need to support women." (Kay Kraatz, Seneca Falls 2000)

Last Instructions
Equal rights can be enjoyed by everyone. Recommended side dishes include compassion, mutual respect and equal opportunities , and these can be prepared simultaneously. If above recipe seems daunting, try cooking a smaller version. It's always good to have a bit of equal rights ready to serve to unexpected guests or the uninitiated. If unsure of progress, ask your neighbor or best friend - chances are, they're cooking the same thing.


Please email me at: daphne@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Becky - Get out of the kitchen! It's time for equal rights! Or is it?
Teddy - Astronauts, judges, senators, truck drivers, TV producers - women rock!
Kevin - It's my last name and I'll keep it if I want to!
Rebecca - What's got 7 layers of clothes and a broken rib?
Team - Depression, anxiety and irritability: the low down on being too thin