A Feminist Village in Upstate New York

The Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776 in the United States. In 1787, the American government published the US constitution in its original format. These documents asked to create a more equal society, yet failed to provide civil rights (such as the right to elect and be elected for a government office) to women and to some of the men. Abolition movements fought for the civil rights of men with black skin. Women were very active in such movements, yet their wish to add the demand for women’s civil rights was denied. They were told to wait – Now, said the government, was “the time of the niger”.

In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and three additional women decided to take action. They advertised an anonymous ad about a conference regarding the social, civil and religious conditions, as well as women’s rights. Although the conference took place in Seneca Falls, a small village in upstate New York, it drew in a big crowd. During the conference, Stanton, Mott and their partners advertised a declaration of rights which included women as equals in society. Following this conference, the decision to actively and directly fight for women’s civil rights was taken.

The village still exists in upstate New York. It is right on the path of the “classical route” that is constantly asked and offered by Israeli travelers. The village is located three hours away from Niagara Falls and thirty hours away from the Finger Lakes. Despite repeated online searches over the last year for feminists locations to visit during my trip, I found this small, important place only recently.

In general, it’s quite challenging to find feminist places to visit. I found the feminist floor of New York City’s Brooklyn Museum because I specifically looked for “The Dinner Party”, a work of art created by Judy Chicago and many other women to put at the center stage women who have long been dropped from the pages of history. I found a Hall of Fame for women’s basketball only when I searched for a place to sleep. One of the motels near the Smoky Mountains of eastern US, where I considered travelling, detailed the nearby attractions, and this Hall of Fame was simply another attraction on the list. When the fact of a long layover in Atlanta, Georgia – a city considered the capital of southeast US – was founded, I looked for locations that could reveal to me women’s part in the American civil war. To this date I have found none.

And here, five and a half hours from the city I will visit for approximately fifty hours – New York – is a village proud of its feminist history. According to photos I found online, you can find there a sign saying “The first convention of women’s rights was held here”. According to further searches, the village contains a museum and a park focusing on the women. On the Facebook page of the village’s Visitor’s Center one can find photos of statutes from the village, statutes of Stanton and her partners, of these women that reminded anyone who wanted to listen – and especially those who did not want to listen – that women, too, are human beings.

The revelation of the village was one filled with happiness and excitement for me, and it was immediately filled with sadness as well. Unfortunately, I don’t have how to reach the village this time. The nearest airports are relatively far away and there is no public transportation in the area. Contacting the visitors center did not give better results. In March 2010, the citizens of the village voted for its dissolution, an act scheduled for late 2011. I am filled with hope that I can reach this village one day, and of course, that despite the dissolution, the citizens and government keep the feminists monuments, so that we don’t forget, not even for a moment, these courageous women who fought for us all. May they rest in peace.

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