Essay Title: The Declaration of Sentiments

Name: Zoe Thanawala

Grade: 12th Grade

Email Address:

High School of Attendance: Clear Falls High School

School Address: 4380 Village Way, League City, TX 77573

School Phone number: 281-284-1100

The Declaration of Sentiments

The dominance of men throughout history and the influence thereof on gender roles/ society can be justified by an array of perspectives. A strictly evolutionary approach might insinuate that the society and traditional gender roles are a direct result of natural selection, however, from a religious perspective one may believe that God had intentionally ensured the superiority/dominance of men over women. The culmination of all these perspectives is the patriarchal nature of society that has lead to the historical (as well as current) oppression of women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton addresses the oppression of women in her speech, “The Declaration of Sentiments”, in order to illustrate a monochrome representation of the life of women (one of spiritual violation, dependency, and deprivation of unalienable rights) and underline the change needed in the US Constitution on the matter of women’s rights.

Currently there are numerous countries that have enabled the oppression of women due to the implementation of religious law and the influence thereof on the government. Afghanistan is one such country that turns a blind eye to the starving widows, under-age girls forced into marriage, high maternal death rates, rape, murder, incest, abductions, wife-beatings, and lack of access to liberal ideas has been widely criticized by westernized countries such as the United States, due to the direct violation of the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that individuals living in this country have been entitled to since their arrival. However, many forget that it was not too long ago that American women were subjected to some (if not all) the same offenses that are prevalent in the "primitive" societies we condemn currently. Stanton addresses the direct violation of the unalienable rights that bestowed upon all in America by discussing the universal divide between men and women that is evident in Stanton’s gender specific version of the Declaration of Independence. An example of this is when Stanton states "He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice" and "He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men--both natives and foreigners". Stanton uses repetition and gender specific pronouns in order to provide definition to the line that divides men and women in the eyes of the government. This direct denial of human rights is enough to evoke compassion in her readers as it candidly addresses the “grievances” in a direct manner that is not open to interpretation. The repetition of "he has" delineates the relationship of the victim (the woman) and the perpetrator (man) and makes the reader susceptible to the compassion that is naturally felt in the face of the violation and oppression Stanton asserts.

The maltreatment of women and the justification thereof is predominantly through the misconstruction of religious text. Patriarchal traditions have been shaped by a man's prerogative to dominate and control (more or less manipulate/abuse) a woman within religious traditions. This silent liaison that purposely ensures the subordination of women is not just one that has developed with zero historical influence. For centuries women have been considered the lesser children of God due to their "sinful" existence and their presence being the temptation that have wreaked destruction of man. This relationship can be exemplified by the extreme struggle women face in order to become higher members of the Church. There have been stories that have been told of a woman named Joan who masqueraded as a man and reigned as Pope for a few years during the Middle Ages but was killed the minute she had been revealed as a woman. Whether this is fact or fable is unknown, however, it is apparent that that it is this spiritual violation that women are subjected to that have promoted rape culture and the further abuse of women with the justification that the woman had tempted the man; she had asked for the "violation" and wanted it. The concept of spiritual violation describes the maltreatment that a woman is subjected to should she devote herself to a particular religion that enables men to dominate women. Stanton addresses this spiritual violation when she states; "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." Stanton's strong diction effectively evokes compassion in her readers as it helps illustrate an uncolored delineation of the life of women and the lengths to which the oppression has reached. By using words such as "deprivation" in regard to liberty, it subliminally creates a situation that the reader may deem one of austerity in order to evoke a sense of compassion as it engages the reader's mind and psychologically incorporates the oppression of women/the assertions of Stanton into one that is equal to their preconceived idea of deprivation.

Within the past century the leash around the necks of women have been loosened, and the dependence on men in a financial, social, and spiritual sense has decreased significantly. However, a glass ceiling still looms over the heads of many American women due to the years of crippling emotional abuse that rendered and ensured their dependency on men. Stanton addresses this dependency when she states "He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life." Stanton yet again strategically uses repetition and gender specific pronouns in order to provide definition to the line that defines women as the victim and men as vicious perpetrators that endeavor to strip women of a life of free will and entrap them in a relationship in which all sense of self will be lost. The dependent relationship that Stanton defines in this particular quote is one allows the reader to be made aware of the oppression and feel the compassion that Stanton successfully evokes in her readers through her honest account of the life of American women.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton addresses the oppression of women in her speech, “The Declaration of Sentiments”, in order to illustrate an uncolored delineation of the life of women (one of spiritual violation, dependency, and deprivation of unalienable rights) and evoke compassion in her readers. The Declaration of Sentiments is one of the primary documents that influenced the change of a woman’s role in America and the world. America’s circle of influence has been an all encompassing one in the sense that the model America’s advanced society provides is one that is inspiring progression all over the world (like in Saudi Arabia). The American Constitution -with the revisions made after the women's rights movement-is one that many countries and societies have adopted as their own. It was due to this document that women in the United States and all over the world are making strides to completely demolish any and all evidence of oppression. This document holds great significance in creating the amendments in the constitution that address women’s rights and equality to vote due to its ability to evoke compassion in its readers as it did in the past and continues to do today.

Bibliography (MLA)

"19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)." Our -. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.

Cushman, Clare. Supreme Court Decisions and Women's Rights: Milestones to Equality. nnnnnnnWashington, D.C.: CQ, 2011. Print. nnnnnnn<>.

"Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls: Stanton and Anthony Papers nnnnnnnOnline." Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls: Stanton and nnnnnnnPapers Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2015. nnnnnnn<>.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. "The Declaration of Sentiments." Seneca Falls Convention. nnnnnnnNew York, Seneca Falls. Speech.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Ann D. Gordon, and Susan B. Anthony. The Selected Papers of nnnnnnnElizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers nnnnnnnUP,1997. Print.

Student Biographical Information

GPA: 5.0214 (6.0 GPA Scale)

Rank: 44/577 

Percent Rank: 7%

Honor Societies: National Science Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and National Art Honor Society. 

Extracurricular Activities: I have been a science fair participant for 13 years (as of this year) and have been distinguished in placement in every year of participation. I have been honored by the American Chemical Society and other committees for the research conducted, and have worked with various professors at the University of Houston to complete the projects I chose to execute. I enjoy research due to the challenge it poses in that the questions one proposes may only be answered should you prove capable to find them. I volunteer at the various walks and events that my religious community organizes and as such spend approximately 10 hours a month completing community service. I was a chamber violinist from 9th to 11th grade and had gained placement in region orchestra and state solo and ensemble. 

Honors and Awards: Merit in Chemistry (American Chemical Society), Superintendent Scholar, 1st Place in Chemistry, 2nd Place in Medicine and Health, 1st Place in Medicine and Health, TMEA Region Violinist, Reflections Writing Competition Honorable Mention, 12 years science fair participation award.

Future plans: I would like to attend University on the Pre-Med track and major in Psychology. After medical school I would like to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon.  There is a high demand for female plastic surgeons in the Middle East and South Asian countries due to the increased violence towards women in those areas. Acid burn victims as well as rape victims often need numerous reconstructive/ cosmetic surgeries but are unable to receive treatment due to the taboo nature of their situation. Emergency care is difficult to come by individuals with financial difficulties as well (within and out of the United States), and I feel that it is very important to feel safe with one’s doctor and be secure knowing that care will be provided regardless of an individual’s inability to pay. I want to give back to the cultural community my family comes from as well as the country I was born due to the numerous privileges (such as education) I have been able to receive.