Is there a better way to word this thesis statement to make it more specifically answer the research questions? Please see below. QUESTION: Why was suffrage denied to women in the United States for...

Is there a better way to word this thesis statement to make it more specifically answer the research questions? Please see below.

QUESTION: Why was suffrage denied to women in the United States for so long, and how did the 19th amendment change the role of women?

THESIS:   The debate over women’s suffrage stretched from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, as woman struggled to gain a voice in politics. Suffragists challenged the traditional views of women’s roles and ultimately succeeded in securing the 19th amendment, becoming political players, and inspiring future generations of women to fight for equal rights.

Expert Answers
caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, there are several things that could stand to be reworded in this thesis statement.

First, consider the questions.

1. "Why was suffrage denied in the United States for so long" contains three important facets; denial of suffrage, the United states, and time. You must be careful to address all three in order to completely answer the question. You should discuss who controlled the voting rights, why they might not want women to vote, how this sentiment was transmitted from one generation to the next, and any uniquely "American" aspects of this trend.

  • Your first sentence doesn't really answer these questions; it provides us with information, but no argument, or a specific response to any of the three facets.

2. "How did the 19th Amendment change the role of women" is a fairly straightforward question; you should state the changes to the law, and the corresponding changes in society, that the 19th Amendment specifically instigated. Consider this in terms of longevity as well; for example, by giving women the vote, we might expect that voting patterns and results might have changed following the enactment of the Amendment.

  • You partially address this in the last part of your thesis, stating that women became political players and inspiring future generations. However, this doesn't necessarily say how women's roles changed. You'll have to look at the broader picture for an answer to this; for example, the voting population of the country effectively doubled, and women were no longer politically irrelevant. Consider, also, that the amendment was passed in 1920; the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, which is often perceived as a time of increasingly liberal social values.

If I was to revise this thesis, I would state the following;

  • The social conditions that denied suffrage to women; a combination of old-world tradition going as far back as Athenian democracy, in which only men were considered politically relevant, and superstition that held women to be weaker in mind and body and therefore unfit to vote. The power to vote was held exclusively by men, who controlled institutions that had no legal requirement to award power to women; thus the sentiment was transmitted from generation to generation.
  • The United States, in light of its founding principles, seemed destined to eventually award women the right to vote. However, particularly in the aftermath of the Civil War, the country was still "finding itself" and arguing over which traditions would be maintained, and which would be thrown out.
  • The 19th Amendment made women relevant to politics by creating a huge demographic of new voters, which were both feared and catered to by the establishment. This validation of women's ability, intellect, and social relevance also fueled further women's rights movements and contributed to liberalized social values and behaviors in the decades that followed suffrage.

So, my thesis might go something like; "In the aftermath of the American Civil War, and in light of freedom and voting rights for slaves, long-held stereotypes and traditions regarding women also began to be questioned and challenged, leading to protracted conflicts between the suffrage movement and conservative forces. A growing trend in progressive social values led to the success of the suffragists, culminating in voting rights via the 19th Amendment, and fueling additional changes and conflicts over women's roles as future generations were inspired to assert themselves.

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