For many generations the man has been the only one who had an opinion. Men were the only ones who made decisions and women were basically material things. They did not have a say in any part of the community; they were used to produce children and take care of those children. A woman had many jobs to do, but no matter how much she would do, she would not collect recognition because she was looked at as lower than a man.
In the early 1900s women had many different areas of work. One of their major areas of work was to watch over and take care of the children (Addams 1). They were to feed them and clean them and take care of them when they were sick. This may not sound to challenging to mothers these days but back then the living conditions were much worse. For women who lived in the countryside it was not as hard because it was not as crowded as in the cities. Many children in the cities would get sick because of how crowded it was, but children in the country would be sick less frequently (Addams 1). Women also had to make sure that there was food for the family, but mostly for the children. In the cities much of the food was rotten (Addams 1). Most of the fruits and vegetables were decaying and they would be the only choice for mothers to buy (Addams 1). Women could not buy the meat because it was very disease-ridden (Addams 1).
During most of the day women had to clean the house and make sure that all of the chores were done (Addams 1). The women that lived in the country were able to control the hygiene of their house because they could throw the garbage out and get rid of all the waste. For the women in the cities the situation was a lot worse because they cannot control where the waste went (Addams 1). The conditions were considerably less sanitary than what they were in the country.
In the country, women were able to sweep their porches to wipe off the dust. However, in the city, the streets were filled with dirt and grime, which was right outside of the door, and no matter how much you swept, it would make no difference (Addams 1). There was never a guarantee that the garbage would be picked up. This would create an even bigger mess and would fill the air with terrible smells. It was almost impossible for the mothers to keep their houses clean because disease filled the air and there was sickness all around (Addams 2). It was also hard for them to do easy household tasks such as doing the laundry. For example, a lot of the immigrant women were used to doing their laundry at a river with a group of other women. Now that they lived in a crowded city there was no river to wash in, only a bucket; and they did it alone (Addams 2). Small things like this were extremely hard to adjust to.
Another very large occupation of the women belonged to the schools. They were the biggest contributors to the children’s education. They had different groups such as the mothers’ school clubs and the mothers’ congresses (Addams 6). If women had the right to vote at this time there would have been many more kindergartens, domestic science courses, and school playgrounds (Addams 6). It was very important for the women to teach their daughters how to cook, sew and take care of younger children at very young ages. If the daughters did not learn how to do these things than the mothers would have been heavily burdened; they would not have been able to run an acceptable household (Addams 6). This was different however, in other countries, such as Italy or France, where these were taught in the public schools so the mothers did not have to go through the hassle.
Women had to basically take care of all things home, while the husbands were out at work. This prevented the men from knowing how bad the conditions were for the women. If the women were able to vote they would have been able to try and change some of the terrible things that went on in the cities. With the ability to vote, the women would have been able to improve the conditions, such as getting a cover for the food stands in the city so the fruit and vegetables did not get covered in dirt and dust over the course of the day (Addams 3). This is the only way that a problem like this could have been fixed because the men, who were the only ones who had a say, were unaware so they didn’t know to bring these things up. They also thought that there were bigger things that had to be taken care of. The women would also have been able to bring up how badly the buildings needed to be changed. The basements were wet, the stairs were not fireproof, there were no windows for air or light, and the bathrooms did not have sanitary plumbing which could cause sickness throughout the house (Addams 1). These conditions were almost too bad to be lived in and they needed to be changed.
Giving the women the right to vote was not entirely for the women. In fact, the women were not the main benefactor; the children were. Numerous things that would have been improved due to women gaining the right to vote were directly involved with the children. The condition of the house would have been more suitable to live in, which would have helped to prevent the young children from coming down with different sicknesses (Addams 2). It would also have made the living easier on the younger children because they would have been able to be more childish, by playing with a bunch of other children, and the mothers wouldn’t have to worry about their safety. Much of the food, which would be healthier, was meant for the children so that directly helps their bodies (Addams 6). This made a better life for the children because they were healthier as well. The women benefited as well though because many women gained new positions in the government. They got their input recognized and they changed the way that things were run. There were new laws passed and women would have easier lives because of them.
Addams is very particular about this topic because she takes offence by the thought of a women not being able to speak her mind (Addams 12). She believes that a women plays too much of a role in society too not have their voices heard. She also says that both types of points of view have to be together for there to be a possibility for progress (Addams 12). She strongly believes that the only way for there to be a sane society is if women have the right to vote. The woman is the person who makes the living environment “clean and fair” (Addams 12). Without women a society would be unable to function, and the fact that women did not have a say in the society that they lived in was appalling to Addams. She put her heart and her soul into the paper that she wrote and she felt very deeply on the subject. This was no joking matter to her; it was close to her heart.
Addams gives many good reasons on why women should have the right to vote. One of the most convincing arguments that she gives is when she mentions the women’s’ role in education. Without the women the children would not be as useful as they were. The children would not have as wide of an education either (Addams 2). One of the arguments that I did not feel convincing was that if the women got the right to vote than they would be able to fix the way the buildings were set up. This was a monetary concern, not due to the fact that the men were not aware of it. I don’t think that the conditions were made better because of the women’s newfound right, but just because of the progress that the future brought (Addams 1).
With women gaining the right to vote our nation made a huge step in the right direction. This step was a big part of what makes our nation so great today. We must all remember that the world used to be much worse and it is thanks to people such as Jane Addams who made life better for everyone. Without people like this our lives would never have changed for the better and who knows how different things would be.