Thursday, March 19, 2009

Declaration of Sentiments

We began by discussing their reaction to the true story about our school's boys' basketball team that won six of nine games, but lost one of them to an all-girl team. Wow--issues of manhood, assumptions about girls and sports, bias, pride--thirteen year olds have some mighty strong opinions! I love what S. said when she tired of hearing the guys trying to explain away the loss: "You got beat by girls--take it like a man!"

This launched us into the first women's rights convention, catapulted into existence by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott's experience at the London World Anti-Slavery Convention. See, they had attended the convention as ardent abolitionists, but when they were required to sit behind a curtain (??? I know!) with the rest of the women, they had a new mission.

Kids registered shock as they learned about the list of charges leveled in the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls in 1848. These were some that shook the kiddies the most:

"...He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns...

...He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity,provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement...

Tomorrow we will examine the gender gap in pay equity and discover why voting is so vital. My hope is that some among them will remember this lesson when they turn eighteen, thanking those who blazed the trail to make it possible.

And if even a bit of chauvinism dies, we ALL win. And if someone tells you that you throw like a girl, ask them "Which girl?" Because it just might be a compliment.

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