Social Inequalities Between Men and Women

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Social Inequalities between men and women in the Victorian Era

Social freedom of men compared to women

• Women lived in the private sphere of the home and hearth, and men in the public sphere of business, politics, commerce and sociability.

• It was through their duties within the home that women were offered a moral duty, towards their families, especially their husbands, and towards society as a whole.

• The female body was dressed to emphasize a woman's separation from the world of work. By wearing dresses that resembled their interior furnishings, women became walking symbols of their social function - wife, mother, domestic manager.

• The fashion for constricting corsets and large skirts served to underline not only a woman's prime function, but also the physical constraints on her activities.

• Motherhood was a social responsibility, a duty to the state and thus a full-time job, which could not easily be combined with paid work.

• The first animal-cruelty legislation in Britain was passed in 1824, however, legal protection from domestic violence was not granted to women until 1853 Even this law did not outright ban violence by a man against his wife and children; it imposed legal limits on the amount of force that was permitted.

• Women were not freely offered the opportunity to study subjects of an extended, classical, and commercial nature. This made it difficult for a woman to break free from the societal constraints to achieve independent economical status. Education was specialized by gender. 

• Women could not expect to be paid the same wage as a man for the same work, despite the fact that women were as likely as men to be married and supporting children.

• Victorian men kept mistresses, but they still expected their wives or mistresses to be faithful whatever their own misdemeanours. If a women took a lover it was not made public. If it did become public knowledge she would...
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