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Woman is a Slave

September 1852 — Third National Woman’s Rights Convention, Syracuse City Hall, Syracuse NY


It is of very little importance in what geographical position a person is born, but it is important whether his ideas are based upon facts that can stand the test of reason, and his acts are conducive to the happiness of society. Yet, being a foreigner, I hope you will have some charity on account of speaking in a foreign language. Yes, I am an example of the universality of our claims; for not American women only, but a daughter of poor, crushed Poland, and the downtrodden and persecuted people called the Jews, “a child of Israel” pleads for the equal rights of her sex. I perfectly agree with the resolution, that if woman is insensible to her wrongs, it proves the depth of her degradation. It is a melancholy fact, that woman has worn her chains so long that they have almost become necessary to her nature — like the poor inebriate, whose system is so diseased that he cannot do without the intoxicating draft, or those who are guilty of the pernicious and ungentlemanly practice of using tobacco until they cannot dispense with the inurious stimulant. Woman is in a torpid condition, whose nerves have become so paralyzed that she knows not she is sick, she feels no pain, and if this proves the depth of her degradation, it also proves the great wrong and violence done to her nature . . . 

Woman is a slave, from cradle to the grave. Father, guardian, husband — master still. One conveys her, like a piece of property, over to the other. She is said to have been created only for man’s benefit, not for her own. This falsehood is the main cause of her inferior education and position. Man has arrogated to himself the right to her person, her property, and her children; and so vitiated is public opinion that if a husband is rational and just enough to acknowledge the influence of his wife, he is called “henpecked.” The term is not very elegant, but it is not of my coining; it is yours, and I suppose you know what it means; I don’t. But it is high time these irrationalities are done away, for the whole race suffers by it. In claiming our rights we claim the rights of humanity; it is not for the interest of woman only, but the interest of all. The interest of the sexes cannot be separated — together they must enjoy or suffer — both are one in the race.



Source: Proceedings of the Women’s Rights Convention, Held at Syracuse, Sept 8th, 9th & 10th, Syracuse, 1852, (Syracuse: J.E. Masters, 1852), pp. 63-64.