The Women's Rights Movement
Two years before the birth of Katherine O'Flaherty (Kate Chopin), in 1848, there was a Women's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York with the intention to create better lives for women. It began when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met with four other female friends for tea one hot day and when the topic changed to women in society, she strongly spoke of her belief that women should be treated equally. The Revolutionary War had been fought so that they could win their freedom from tyranny, but women had yet to be free. They were not allowed to vote, they were not allowed to work jobs other than teaching positions, and in the eyes of the law, "married women were legally dead". There are many other chains on women in those days, which were listed in the Declaration of Sediments which was written just 6 days later at the convention. The Declaration of Sediments mimicked the Declaration of Independence in its style of writing. This convention was a success, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton expects a fight to succeed. Just one day into the movement, the backlash from society began. The newspapers were in shock of the demands these women were making, being especially shocked at the thought of a woman being able to vote! This backlash and the negative ridicule in papers later served to the advantage for women, because it got out the word to other cities and states, and began an uproar all over the states; whether women should have equal laws or not. There were many conventions held following this uproar, and for the next forty years women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Soujorner Truth traveled across the states with Stanton speaking out about women's rights. What had started out as an argument on women's rights over tea, ended up being a 72-year campaign. In 1920, The Women's Right's Movement finally realized success.
Kate's Values in Society
In the time that Kate Chopin was growing from a child to a woman, there was an ongoing battle for women's rights. She was raised in a culture where many people were holding onto society and values the way they were, and yet many others were feeling there was need for change, that change being the Women's Right's Movement. It is unknown how Kate's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother felt about this fight for women's rights, but one can assume that being the strong women they were, most likely they had very strong beliefs in women's rights as well. They had, after all, already been widowed and had been the "man" and the "woman" in the house for years. The O'Flaherty women had strong souls and they knew how to take care of themselves. Safely said, Kate Chopin had a strong desire to be her own woman. She would make her own rules. Having been raised and graduated from a very prestigious Catholic school, Kate was taught very strict values and guidelines. She doesn't seem to use those values when living her life, as one would see by her many affairs after her husband's death, one with a married man. Kate appears to be a woman filled with passion and desires; she went after what she wanted and she said what she thought, even when it was scandalous. Kate does not restrict herself to a certain way of acting, living, or writing, as is seen in the content of her stories and novels. In a time that it was not acceptable for women to speak out about sexuality and independence, Kate screams it in her writing. Her stories brought on many controversies and was not widely appreciated or accepted until many years after Kate's death. Kate Chopin leaves a legacy behind, though. Along with many very popular stories, her "unacceptable" literatures have now been published and are considered masterpieces. Chopin wrote of a time in the future where women had the freedom to write what they felt, but she did it in a time when it was unacceptable. Through her writing, Kate told a story of women's rights in their own. She fought this battle alone and it was Kate Chopin's boldness and courage, which left her to stand out among all others.