by Redi Degefa
I initially received the inspiration for this experiment from my American History class with Dr. Paul McGraw. We discussed the often misleading word, Suffrage (The right to vote,mainly in a public or political election) and how it is associated with the word “suffering.” Previous social experiments have been conducted to determine how much of the general
public is familiar with the proper definition of
“suffrage.” Random people, specifically women were asked to sign a petition to end Women’s Suffrage. Unfortunately, many agreed to sign the petition as they assumed it was ending women’s suffering. As PUC is an academic institution, I decided to conduct a similar experiment, and uncover how many of PUC students know what a suffrage is. I interviewed twenty-five students during which I engaged them in a friendly conversation that consisted of three questions: Do you consider yourself a feminist? How would you define Women’s Suffrage? And would you be willing to sign a petition to end women’s suffrage?
Fifteen out of the twenty-five students (60 percent) defined suffrage in terms of suffering and offered to sign the petition. The other 40 percent recognized suffrage as a voting right and declined the petition. The majority of the 60 percent also claimed to be feminists.
Most of the students who agreed to sign the
petition, admitted to not knowing the exact
Woman suffrage headquarters in Upper Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio definition of Women’s Suffrage. They envisioned suffrage to be the inequality and oppression women had to endure over the years. At first, a few students were hesitant to sign the petition, because, they didn’t want to side with matter they had no adequate knowledge on. But,
eventually, they made the most common assumption and agreed to sign.
My favorite reactions came from friend groups
who had individuals that differ in their
definition of suffrage. They were engaged in heated
arguments as they tried to persuade each
other to change their minds and settle on one
definition. Two of the friend groups I interviewed
had people that persuaded the rest of the members
to sign the petition ending women’s suffrage.
So what? One might ask. Why is it important that
we know what suffrage really is? This experiment is merely a small part of the larger picture; the importance of educating yourself on matters that you claim to support and to be a part of. Applying the proper amount of time and effort to learn about our beliefs is the means of gaining a proper insight into them.
Lastly, if anyone approaches you with a petition to
end Women’s Suffrage, DO NOT SIGN.