The Declaration of Equality
The American Declaration of Independence is regarded as one of the keystones of modern Western democracy. While the founding fathers espoused freedom in their writing, freedom was granted unequally to the citizens. The styling and wording of the Declaration of Independence are overtly gender-unequal and as such, it is paramount that for political correctness, such instances of gender inequality be corrected. It is argued that “men” refers to human beings, and is not a restriction or designation of gender (Maier 98). This idea, however, is an invention, since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration in collusion with society’s values at the time. The natives, women, and blacks, were regarded inferior to men (read white men) and hence excluded from pursuing their happiness (Tong 27).The current standards of political correctness should thus not be applied to a document written in a social period that tolerated oppression.
The first stride in the direction of political correctness is thus altering the wording of the document. “We must,therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends” should be edited so that “mankind” is replaced by “humankind.”“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, which among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, endows them. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” should also be edited (ushistory.org 1). The word “men” should be replaced in the two instances by either “men or women” or by “people.”
Replacing these phrases, however, does not result in political correctness. The document fails to touch on the lack of freedom of women at the time, this time not from the British crown, but from man. Moreover, the notion of freedom and liberty in society then and now have changed. At the time of scripting the document, freedom entailedpolitical justice and defiance to the British crown. In today’s culture, however, freedom includes equality among genders. Clauses that assure the freedomof womenfolk of the time from oppression and obscurity in society’s eyes have to be added. One is, “Womenfolk have the right to be represented independently of a man in society.” In counteraction of the tradition of describing women by their relations to men. To counter the lack of marital freedom for women is the statement, “A married woman has the right to divorce and to have custody of her children as circumstance may proffer.”
In mimicry of the style used in the Declaration of Independence, some other clauses that can be added to highlight the fact that women are American citizens include:
- Integrity and respect are trampled upon by keeping women from equal access to college and profitable jobs
- Viewing females as subservient to males violates freedom
- He has created a false public sentiment by serving men and women a different moral code, by which moral delinquencies exclude women from society, and at best their presence is implicitly tolerated(in reference to man.)
In conclusion, for the Declaration of Independence to promote gender equality, it has to have included clauses that promoted the rights of women against the oppression prevalent at the time. To adequately foster equality the document ought to have had women signers.
Maier, Pauline. American scripture: making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Vintage, 2012. Document.
Tong, Rosemarie. “Feminist thought in transition: Never a dull moment.” The Social Science Journal 44.1 (2007): 23-39. Document.
ushistory.org. The Declaration of Independence. 2015. Document. 10 October 2015. <http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document>.