After reading Angelina Grimke's 1837 letter to her friend I was interested in the fact that some women have felt different and lesser than men in some regards well before the organized fight for women's rights. Grimke wrote about the lack of human rights given to slaves and women, but accepts that the lack of rights for slaves as something that cannot be changed and must simply be dealt with. However, she does note that human rights should be extended to all moral beings rather than differentiating between men and women. She believes that the differences between men and women are not ingrained in their genders, but the lifestyle they live and because of that, they should not have different rights, duties and limitations based solely on their gender. She notes that men are looked at as warriors, while women were seen only as beautiful creatures, destined to wait on a man and obey his every whim. She says that by doing this, people have been robbed of their originality and that women have lost their rights to think, speak and become something other than a man's plaything. She finds it incorrect that women are seen as the property of men and argues that women, as a whole, were never given to men, but placed on the earth just the same way as men were. She brings up the very interesting and thought-provoking point that the differences between men and women are immeasurable in that it is unclear just how far below men women are placed, but that if men and women were simply seen as equals, the confusion would disappear. She believes that women should be seen as equal to men and have the same rights and access that men do, as long as it is morally correct.
Grimke's thoughts were very well-expressed and seemed to be ahead of her time. She was very concerned about morality and expressed sadness for men who practiced immoral behavior and only wished for women to be granted access to the same moral actions that men had access to. A lot of her points about the treatment of men and women in society were important and are still seen today. It is unbelievable that the human rights issues that women faced in 1837 are still seen today, even in the United States. Women are still seen as lesser than men in many situations, including the workplace. Why is it that women cannot seem to obtain a sense of true equality, even in highly developed countries? Why are we seeing the same issues that have been around since the early 1800's? Do human rights belong first and foremost to males or will women ever be seen as 100% equal?
Grimke, Angelina. "Human Rights Not Founded on Sex." In Letters to Catherine Beecher. Isaac Knapp, 1838. (http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/abesaegb5t.html)