Don’t be fooled by the title. In “What Hath Feminism Wrought,” a post yesterday on the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about a new book (“What Hath God Wrought”) about the history of the antebellum south. It includes a long exploration of the links between abolitionists and the early women’s rights movement, and ends at the 1858 Seneca Falls Convention, where attendees came surprisingly close to prioritizing ordination over the right to vote. Coates quotes from the Convention’s “Declaration of Sentiments,” a re-write of the Declaration of Independence to include women. It’s chilling. Read it:
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.That last line reminds us why we have issues with marriage.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners.
Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.