Let’s Chat! Women’s Rights, Then & Now

Welcome, everyone!

women's rights

When I first began brainstorming about a novel set in early twentieth-century Indian Territory, the time and place of my maternal grandmother’s marriage and motherhood, the research took me again and again to the suffrage movement.

I quickly learned the first meeting of reformers for the purpose of addressing equal rights for women–including the vote–was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. This was much earlier than I would have guessed. Out of that first convention came the Declaration of Sentiments, which demanded equal social status and legal rights for women.

Frankly, the women’s movement had never interested me. My impression of suffragists? They behaved in unseemly, shameful ways, as my mother would put it. I assumed they were pagans–unbelievers at the very least–who claimed neither Jesus nor morals.

After all . . . 

  • Firebrands stopped traffic and defied the law.
  • Hellions took bats to liquor bottles in saloons.
  • Rabble-rousers drew crowds and instigated civil disobedience that led to arrests.
  • Others jeered men at voting sites, the president in the White House, and all levels of office holders, sometimes receiving ripe tomatoes or eggs in their faces as a result.
  • Some advocated for “free love” and abortion on demand and wouldn’t be caught dead in church
  • Still others used every sort of household implements as weapons to advance the cause

None of which I could square with Scripture:

women's issues

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (AMP) – make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (AMP) – I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in [positions of] high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
  • Ephesians 5:19-20 – Paul identifies hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and riotous behavior as part of the sinful nature
  • Ephesians 5: 22-23 – Paul highlights the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
  • Titus 2:3-5Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

To make matters worse . . .

Retrieved March 1, 2019 from http://bit.ly/2T7mbJa

One of the most important leaders of the movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had declared the Holy Bible degraded women from first page to last. Therefore, she came up with her own version, one she revised to eliminate what she considered degradation to women. She named it The Woman’s Bible.

Some women in the movement accepted this maimed version of Holy Scripture. Fortunately, most did not. By the turn of the twentieth century, it was largely ignored. And the National American Women Suffrage Association disassociated itself from the publication. However, many believed the harm was done, as it had marginalized the cause.

How These Realities Translated to the Women of Rock Creek

Women's rights
ight away, I found historically significant rifts occurred among women nationwide over the methods they would utilize to achieve their goals. I began asking myself if women devoted to Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture participated in the movement. (Turned out, many devoted followers of Jesus supported the cause.) How did they reconcile their own or their cohorts’ sometimes boisterous, disruptive–even law-breaking–behaviors with Scripture? 

Enter . . . Imagination

women's rights
lla Jane McFarland was born in midst of my “brain storms” over these questions. And asking myself “what if?” questions about the original Ella Jane, my grandmother.

  • What if she had continued her education beyond third grade? 
  • Or received a college education?
  • What if she had been exposed to the suffrage movement, found herself smitten, and couldn’t keep her mouth closed?
  • Or grappled with reconciling her place as a Jesus follower with her role as a suffragist?
  • What if she believed she had received a calling from the Lord to teach women and girls and help them find their voices in a male-dominated world?
  • And what if Ella Jane McFarland found herself in the midst of a group of “rabble-rousing” women? How would she handle it?

Heads up: I’m giving away the Women of Rock Creek series in digital format to someone who joins the conversation below. This include Book 3, which is due to release in June.

Update: Winners – Judi M, Athena M, & Marilyn R.

Women’s hot-button issues have been around a long time.

women's issues

Eve and Women’s Rights (Genesis 2)

  • Created by God (Genesis 2)
    • To be a helper for Adam
    • In tending the Garden
  • Lusted for wisdom (power) (Genesis 3)
    • Result: a double curse
      • pain in childbirth
      • her husband ruling over her

King Solomon’s Worthy Woman and Women’s Rights (Proverbs 31): 

  • Selected wool and flax and worked with eager hands.
  • Was like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
  • Got up while it was still night to provide food for her family and portions for her female servants.
  • She considered a field and bought it; out of her earnings she planted a vineyard.
  • She set about her work vigorously; her arms were strong for her tasks.
  • She saw that her trading was profitable, and her lamp did not go out at night.
  • In her hand she held the distaff and grasped the spindle with her fingers.
  • She opened her arms to the poor and extended her hands to the needy.
  • When it snowed, she had no fear for her household; for all of them were clothed in scarlet.
  • She made coverings for her bed; she was clothed in fine linen and purple.
  • Her husband was respected at the city gate, where he took his seat among the elders of the land.
  • She made linen garments and sold them, and supplied the merchants with sashes.
  • Clothed with strength and dignity, she could laugh at the days to come.
  • She spoke with wisdom.
  • Faithful instruction was on her tongue.
  • She watched over the affairs of her household.
  • She did not eat the bread of idleness.
  • Her children arose and called her blessed; her husband also, and he praised her:
  • Many women did noble things, but she surpassed them all.
  • Charm was deceptive, and beauty was fleeting; but a woman who feared the Lord was to be praised.
  • She was to be honored for all that her hands had done.
  • Her works were to bring her praise at the city gate.

Questions About Women’s Rights:

Women's rights

  • Is a modern wife’s purpose still to be her husband’s helper?
    • If so, who decides how she will help?
      • Her husband?
      • Herself?
      • God?
    • If not, what is her purpose?
      • Who decides?
        • Herself?
        • God?
        • Someone else?
  • Is an unmarried woman’s purpose to help a man/men?
    • If so, which man/men?
    • If not, what is her purpose?
      • Who decides?
        • Herself?
        • God?
        • Someone else?

The Point: Women’s Rights 

From the mid-nineteenth century through 1920, American women demanded the vote to achieve equal standing with men in property and business ownership whether married or single, holding public office, serving on juries, job opportunitiesreceiving equal pay for equal work, education, and many others.

Now women can walk into polling sites and cast ballots unhindered because women before them . . .

  • Gathered in large and small groups in
    • living rooms
    • schools
    • office buildings
    • town halls
    • civic centers
    • parks
  • Met with
    • clubs
    • church groups
    • civic organizations
    • lawmakers
  • Paraded
    • down streets
    • along sidewalks
    • around town squares
  • Spoke from
    • wooden crates
    • podiums
    • automobiles
    • stages
    • sidewalks
    • street corners
  • Picketed as
    • silent sentinels
    • boisterous disrupters of the peace
    • motorists touring the country
  • Endured
    • arrests
    • hunger strikes
    • name calling
    • profanity
    • physical assaults
    • banishment from organizations
    • ostracization 
    • every weather condition

Did each woman participate in each demonstration without sin? I doubt it. Did some women participate without sin? I would guess so. Is it my place to examine those women’s actions through a 100-150-year-old lens? Or am I to take what they accomplished–the good and the evil–before the throne of God’s grace and apply the sacred wisdom He provides in His Word. And thereby find my place in the great stream of equal justice for all?

P.S. Did you know American women chose the term “suffragist” to set themselves apart from the very militant “suffragettes” in England? 

I take this privilege for granted.

I note voting sites and hours in newspapers and on the Internet and mark my calendar. But I rarely think of the women who purchased that privilege by expending their time, talent, and treasure. 

Take-Away Thoughts About “The Temptation” 

This 1911 sketch appeared in Life magazine. First I was confused, then stunned, and finally angry. Check out the questions it evoked in my mind below:

women's issues
Courtesy of The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, VA. https://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/139lafayettepark/139visual6.htm
  • As a Christian woman considering this powerful sketch printed in Life magazine in 1911, I ask myself the following:
    • Was desiring the vote in 1911 tantamount to lusting for power?
    • Is casting my vote a power grab today?
    • Is a woman more apt to lust for power than a man?
    • Would an artist have sketched—or a magazine or newspaper printed—this artwork if it featured a man in place of the woman?
    • Should this conversation matter to Christians? Why or why not?
    • How have times changed in regards to women’s rights 
    • Have God’s expectations of women changed?

What are your thoughts on this thought-provoking sketch?

7 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Women’s Rights, Then & Now

  1. Judi Marshall

    There was good and bad with the movement yes we can vote but some other things I think are better fitting for men to do in my opinion. I am sure there where many women who lived by the word of God when the movement started and continued while fighting for women’s rights;but like today it’s the ones who break the laws or yells loudest and shows the evil side that gets the most attention. It is awesome the history you share as we have heard things that about that time but don’t know everything that happened.

    1. I’m glad you appreciate the history behind the stories. I love sharing it. I’ve been astounded by some of the scrapes some of the women got into. I would have agreed that women deserved to vote, but I would have struggled with some of the methods. It’s fun to imagine it all through stories. Thanks for stopping by, Judi!

  2. Marilyn R

    Thank you for sharing history and scriptures to ponder. Thankful God’s Word does not change.

    1. Athena

      My thoughts
      The devil 😈 is with us at every turn
      God is Power and the devil wants it .
      She looks like she is tempted

      1. Thanks for joining in, Athena. I was a bit stunned to find this 1911 sketch in Life magazine. It so blatantly shows woman suffrage as tantamount to women lusting for power. I couldn’t help but wonder if the sketch would have been printed if it featured a man rather than a woman. I imagine some women lusted for the power they saw inherent in the vote. But I know others saw it simply as an opportunity to have a voice in their governance and to get some laws passed that benefitted women and children. I believe that good, even righteous goal, has been twisted and stretched to such an extent that some outcomes in recent decades have, indeed, been evil, just as the sketch shows. But have those ungodly outcomes resulted from women having the vote? Or men? Or both? People were scratching their heads and wondering what the world was coming to in those days. As we are. God have mercy on our country that’s drifted so far from Him.

    2. Hi, Marilyn. So glad to see you in our chat circle. I have found the history surrounding the years of my books exceedingly interesting. Of course, the suffrage movement was on everyone’s minds at that time. But the 19ll sketch in Life magazine really took me aback. I was quite amazed that it would be acceptable for an artist–and popular publication–to present the desire for the vote as evil for women (but, assumedly, not for men).I imagine some women lusted for the power they saw inherent in the vote.(But didn’t men also?) I know other women saw it simply as an opportunity to have a voice in their governance and to get some laws passed that benefitted women and children. I believe that good, even righteous goal, has been twisted and stretched to such an extent that some outcomes in recent decades have, indeed, been evil, just as the sketch shows. But have those ungodly outcomes resulted from women having the vote? Or men? Or both? People were scratching their heads and wondering what the world was coming to in those days. As we are. God have mercy on our country that’s drifted so far from Him. Thanks for join in!

    3. Amen, Marilyn! Thankful God’s Word doesn’t change. And neither does He.


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Let’s Chat! All About Mending

Welcome, everyone!

ending. My mother honed this household task to a fine point in my youth—the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Nowadays, rips, tears, lost buttons, and worn spots often deem given clothing unworthy of wear. And relegate it to the giveaway bin or rag basket.

Mother adopted a different position. With “a little mending,” she judged most tattered clothing worthy of wear. Her mending basket was bottomless.

She learned frugality during the Great Depression. She could claim only two dresses as her own, one for Sunday morning/Wednesday night and the other for every other day. Understandably, she never strayed far from a needle and thread.

mending_Linda Brooks Davis_Lillian Cathleen
hen I think of Mother, I see her at the sewing machine or beside a lamp with handwork. Got a worn spot on a pair of jeans? No problem. Just sew on a patch. (Not today’s easy-peasy iron-on version but an actual scrap of fabric.) A rip in a seam? All it requires is a stitch or two. Or hand-me-downs that drag the floor or hike in the back? Just hand Mother a pincushion, needle, and thread. And prepare yourself for getting “a little more wear” out of your “new” . . . whatever.

The Mending of Lillian Cathleen

mending_Linda Brooks Davis_Lillian Cathleen
other’s propensity for mending brings to mind a very special young lady, Lily. She’s a secondary character in The Calling of Ella McFarlandBook 1 of my historical series, The Women of Rock Creek. In this 1905 story, she is an aubused 13-yr-old who by most anyone’s measure belongs on the trash heap. Or in a cotton field. Certainly not in women’s clubs. But not in Ella McFarland‘s eyes.

Nine years later, it’s 1914. Lily, our heroine of soon-to-be-released The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, is a 22-yr-old ready to take on the world—sort of. She’s received Ella’s attention and the generosity of Adelaide Fitzgerald, a wealthy neighbor with a heart bulging with generosity. But this former sharecropper’s daughter wonders where she belongs—truly.

Once destitute, battered, and ashamed, Lily asks, “Will my past forever define me?”  Finding the answer plunges her into quandaries, turmoil, and danger. I can’t wait for this story to release in October. Please stayed tuned for more about that.

Meanwhile, here’s a little background for the story . . .

Did You Know: The Mann Act of 1910
[Photo credit: Retrieve August 21, 2018 from http://bit.ly/2w8PBsO]

A historical writer like me soon realizes research isn’t an option. It’s a requirement. Thankfully, I love history. In fact, I often wander into the past when I should be bringing the past into the present as a part of my daily word count. 

The Mann Act of 1910—otherwise known as the White-Slave Traffic Act—represents one of the historical tidbits that fascinate me. Turmoil over the abduction of underage girls had reached such a fever pitch that Congress passed this law to control the heinous trafficking across state lines. 

Did You Know: The Suffrage Movement in 1914
mending_Linda Brooks Davis_Lillian Cathleen
(Photo Credit: Bettman/CORBIS) retrieved from http://bit.ly/2PwE52j August 22, 2018

The battle for equal rights for women would live or die in the ballot box. Actually, the struggle began way earlier than most of us realize. The first official gathering of women for the purpose of advancing “the Cause” was the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. 

Progress toward the vote for women waxed and waned over time. By the time Lily steps onto our stage in 1914, some states and territories have granted women the vote, but national elections are still denied them. And since there isn’t an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the vote, individual states can do as they please.

Did You Know: the Great War
Great War trenches. [Photo credit: Retrieved August 21, 2018 from http://bit.ly/2wkiukT]

Understandably, the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 forced other issues into the background and stalled the women’s cause somewhat. But plenty of the movement’s leaders worked behind the scenes, on street corners, and in front of the Capitol and the White House. In addition, women were filling the roles their husbands vacated to fight in Europe. Consequently, this development fostered the public’s acceptance of women in the workplace—and the ballot box.

So when the War ended in 1918, the stage was set for passage of the 19th Amendment a year later. This granted women unfettered access to the ballot box. When the amendment was ratified in 1920, a major mending job was complete. 

Back to Our Lily . . . and the Eternal Mender

m excited to share Lily’s story in October. Writing it touched places in my heart I didn’t know existed. I was often reminded of Jesus reaching out to women. Like the woman caught in adultery. Or the ostracized Samaritan woman at the well. The women who wept and worshipped at his feet. And those whose devotion swept them into persecution and even death.

I sometimes think of the scene where He extended his hands to Thomas. Seeing and touching his scars was a transforming event that some say took the apostle to a gruesome death in India or elsewhere. We can’t be sure, but what we do know is his response was to fall to his knees declaring, “My Lord and my God.”

I was never deprived or destitute, battered or abused. But I possess mended places that once were broken, ripped, and torn—scars, all the same. So in response to Thomas’s worship and to Jesus’ offer to come to Him for rest and healing, I say, “Amen!”

P.S. I’m giving away a print copy of The Mending of Lillian Cathleen to someone who joins our chat. 

28 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! All About Mending

  1. Paula Shreckhise

    I would love to start this series. I have been sewing since I was 10. My Mother taught me on her Singer treadle machine. I try to mend or alter instead of throw out . But I have resorted to giving clothes away due to my aging midsection. I still sew for crafting projects at church and for the grandkids. You facts about history never fail to inform and intrigue me. Thanks!

    1. Welcome, Paula. Ella McFarland would pronounce you and me “cut from the same bolt of cloth.” 😊 Thank you for your faithful contributions to our gab sessions. I hope we can meet face to face one day. Bless you!

  2. Tabitha

    Congratulations on your new book. It seems we are all in need of ‘mending’ at some time or another. Thankfully our Lord and Savior is always there to lend a helping hand. I look forward to enjoying your books. God bless.

    1. Thank you, Tabitha, for joining the circle and for your kind comments. God bless.

  3. You have such a way with words. Though it’s fiction, your voice is so poetic. Lily’s story is a wonderful read, a beautiful tale that will definitely keep readers engaged! <3

    1. Thank you, Caryl. You are such a support and encourager to other authors. Love you, friend!

  4. Candace West Posey

    I haven’t read your books, but just reading about it makes me want to. I love these kinds of stories!

    1. Hi, Candace. Welcome to the gab session! It’s wonderful to “see” you here for the first time. I’m excited about re-releasing The Calling of Ella McFarland. And then releasing Novel #2 in the series—Lily’s story. I love the history, especially the eras in which my grandparents and parents lived. God bless you!

  5. Penny

    You’re an amazing story teller, Linda! You certainly grabbed my attention with the historical information and photo’s to match. I look forward to reading this book. God bless!

    1. Thank you so much, Penny. You’ve made my day!

  6. Susan Wallace

    Linda I haven’t read any of this series but I want to begin with The Calling of…
    Ella McFarland. Are the first 2 on Amazon? I enjoyed this historical information very much. Ordering The Calling of EllsMcFarland today. 🙏🏻👍😊

    1. Yay! At this point there’s Book 1, The Calling of Ella McFarland (1905). And its sequel, A Christmas to Remember (1908). Then A Christmas Measure of Love (1910), which is the prequel for the next full-length novel, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen (1914)—but it isn’t available until October. I’m also re-releasing Ella’s story with new cover and some added material in October. I love seeing you here on this blog, Susan! Love you!

  7. Marilyn

    Congratulations on your new book, Linda B. Davis.
    This history you shared was informative and interesting to read. I’m looking forward to reading Mending.
    I remember our mother Mending clothes and something I still do.
    Blessings upon your soon to be released book.

    1. I always love seeing your name in the list of commenters, Marilyn. Will we ever meet in person this side of Heaven? I hope so. Thank you so much for your faithful readership. God bless.

  8. Sue Giallombardo Walker

    Congrats my dear friend
    ( & Kojie sister) on your new book.. will order soon.. so happy for your success.. Hugs!!

    1. Thank you, precious long-time friend! It’s coming out in October, hopefully by the 15th. I’ll be sending up flares close to the exact date 🙂 so stay tuned.

  9. Melissa Andres

    Wow! Beautiful post…and such interesting history! I’m really looking forward to reading your new book. My daughter’s name is Lillian and we call her Lily, so that’ll be fun as well!

    1. Is that Lillian/Lily thing cool or what? Love it. Thanks for joining the circle, Melissa. I’ll be hollering (as Lily would say) the exact release date as soon as I know it. 🙂

  10. Congratulation Linda! I’m so excited to read the story! Hope, you are well.

    1. Thank you, my far-off, yet tucked-into-my-heart friend. Please let me know about your book … not that I can read German …

  11. Linda D. Davis

    I just love the history you share. It’s so fascinating, intriguing, and heart-wrenching. So much of me would love to have lived in those nostalgic centuries. I’m so thankful you share your incredible research ways with words. You are an amazing beautiful soul.

    1. Aww. Thank you, Cuz. You always lift me up. You have the gift of encouragement.

  12. So looking forward to this book. I could not put the first one down and know this one will be just as enthralling. God blessed you with a great talent. Thank you for continuing to write. This is a very timely subject matter.

    1. Thank you, my hometown friend. We share many of the same memories–of home, mothers, church, school. Your encouragement means so much.

  13. Pat

    This is so exciting, Linda! Lillian Cathleen is a heroine I’d love to know more about. Enjoyed your post.

    1. You’re such a faithful reader and commenter, Pat. You encourage me. Thank you.

  14. Stacy Simmons

    I’m excited to hear more about your forthcoming novel Linda. It sounds very good. Enjoyed the rest of your post too.

    1. Hi, Stacy. Welcome to the chat circle. I’m honored you accepted the invitation to this gab session.


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