Professor Kuhlman and Professor Woodworth-Ney both present interesting arguments regarding women’s suffrage in the United States and the entire world. While they agree on a number of points, there are also some differences in their views.
With regard to patterns in women’s suffrage, both professors agreed that women were given the right to vote by males. They also both stated that there is no overall pattern in the world, but Professor Woodworth-Ney pointed out one pattern to women’s suffrage in the American West. She stated that most women in the American West had some sort of voting rights prior to the 19th Amendment. She added that this might have been due to the fact Americans’ experience with the Frontier made them democratic, allowing them to be more open minded to such freedoms as women’s voting rights. As far as individual states; however, she said that the states did not share the same reasons for passing the laws. Professor Kuhlman, on the other hand, stated that there were some trends, such as the fact that Protestant-dominated nations tended to grant suffrage more willingly than Catholic-dominated nations (e.g., Quebec). She also pointed out that there seems to be a relationship between war and women’s suffrage (e.g., spike after both World Wars in the numbers of states that granted women’s suffrage).
Both professors also presented other factors that were ultimately related to women’s suffrage. For example, Professor Kuhlman discussed the issue of what is a “nation” and how the definition typically included a shared “culture, history and language,” but because nations were always male-dominated, women did not have a good relationship with nations. She argued that through suffrage, women were able to develop a better relationship with the nation, strengthening the idea of the aforementioned definition. Professor Woodworth-Ney stated that anti-suffrage proponents argued that if women were allowed to vote, the amount of black voters would increase. In reality, though, she pointed that women advocates in Texas argued that actually more white women would vote because of the existing Jim Crowe laws. Additionally, Foner mentioned the abolitionist movement and the expansion of women into the work force as additional factors that propelled the women’s suffrage laws.
After reading and listening to all of the material on women’s suffrage, I believe that women’s suffrage was mostly evolutionary. For one, it took a long time and revolutionary changes typically occur quickly. There also seems to be a natural progression (as Professor Kuhlman pointed out) in that women had become politicized even before women’s suffrage occurred: Certain women’s issues (e.g., domestic concerns) became politicized, which gave way to women’s suffrage issues. Finally, there were no mentions of any radical demonstrations or upheavals that lead to immediate changes.