English Versus Japanese Female Mill Workers: Connected Through History

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English Versus Japanese Female Mill Workers: Connected Through History| |
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Evie PyleWorld History16 November 2012Period 2|
“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself and do whatever she needs to.” ~Ani DiFranco|

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Throughout the innovation of the factory, the most important characteristic was efficiency; producing as much as possible, as fast as possible. Because of the need for employees in the factories, owners began employing women, two examples being in England and Japan. Men in control, low wages, responsibilities for families, ages of employees, long working hours, and the horrific working conditions, were common in both societies. Despite being on opposite sides of the hemisphere, both groups of women were segregated in unfair experiences.

Prior to answering a research question, one must question different aspects of the topic. The original document based question was: How were the experiences of Female Mill Workers in England and Japan similar? In order to begin thinking about the topic, subconsciously, one asks themselves deeper questions. Who ruled over these women? What kept these women from fighting for their rights? How did the women differ in age? Asking these questions helped me to genuinely understand the topic of the document based question, and in more depth. The main sources I looked at were statistical sources from both England and Japan. In addition, some sources I found were original documents of young women in the time period. Asking myself these questions and finding accurate sources helped me to develop my paper in a significant way.

Significance can be measured on both the uniqueness and the similarities of the groups of women in England and Japan. The main factories in England were in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Somerset, and Derbyshire. Around the 1800s, on average, 79.7% of the English mill workers were women. 57% of these women were over the age of 20. In Japan, 92% of the mill workers were women. Yet only 34% of the women were over 20, meaning that younger women were employed rather than getting an education. Regardless of the ages, all the factories chose to employ women, but why, and how did their experiences relate?

In both England and Japan, women were always controlled by men, especially in the mill working factories. Men were the owners, the big decision makers, and were privileged among the many employees, the majority being women. Whether the product created was silk, lace, wool, or cotton, the men were in charge of the women. Typically, the men were highly respected employees, who could be appointed manager. Because the men had considerably subjective power of the women, the women were defenseless and vulnerable. Many women in the factories were violently raped and harassed while working in the factories. With the fear of losing their job, the women were left with no possibilities of getting help. Some rapes even resulted in pregnancy, yet the women were always blamed. Men usually paid women off in order to remove the problem from his life. Several women chose to commit suicide because of constant fear of sexual harassment. In England and Japan, the female mill workers were constantly treated unfairly and unequally when among men, who relentlessly had more power. Throughout the lives of the women working in the factories, in both England and Japan, the men constantly had power over the women. Not only did the men have control, but they also were paid substantially more than the women. Even when working the same job, and hours, women were paid significantly less than men. In England, the average daily wage for a male loom operator was 40 pence, or 40 pennies. The average daily wage for a female loom operator was 26 pence, or 26 pennies. In Japan, the average daily wage for a male cotton mill worker was 17 sen, roughly 0.0021 American Dollars. The average daily wage for a female cotton...
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