Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s and Susan B. Anthony’s Proverbial Rhetoric Promoting Women’s Rights
9. “A woman is the weaker vessel”
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“A woman is the weaker vessel”
The Struggle Against the Proverbial Misogyny of the Bible
Even though Susan B. Anthony did not marry, she certainly shared Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s deep concern about the subservient role that many women played in problematic marriages with men finding justification for the ill treatment of their wives in the deliberate misinterpretation of the Bible by the established church. Important as their goal of suffrage for women was, they nevertheless realized that the sad state of marriages needed to be addressed if women were ever to gain equal social standing with men. Thus Stanton wrote to Anthony as early as March 1, 1852: “I do not know that the world is quite willing or ready to discuss the question of marriage. […] It is in vain to look for the elevation of woman, so long as she is degraded in marriage. I say it is a sin, and outrage on our holiest feelings to pretend that anything but deep, fervent love & sympathy constitutes marriage. The right idea of marriage is at the foundation of all reforms” (ECS, I, 53; March 1, 1852; see DuBois 2007: 82). In a major address at a mass meeting of women on May 17, 1870 at New York City, Stanton had much more to say about matrimony, closing her detailed remarks with a positive glance to the future that typifies her as a social reformer:
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