PROF. Pamela Forsythe
April 29, 2013
Women have come a long way, from the earliest day of staying at home and taking care of the family, to becoming some of the world’s leaders that are more renowned. The beginning of the woman’s movement started in the late 1700 and continues today. Woman faced many struggles and conflict, for many generations, in order for recognition as a citizen with rights that are equal to white males. Women have always been placed in a subservient role. They had no rights to own property and have money of their own. They were placed at the mercy of the family or husbands. They were not allowed to conduct business, control their property nor had any decisions when it came to politics. In the early of 1600’s to 1700’s men outnumbered women and this gave them more freedom to choice to either remarry or to remain on her own. Women’s rights started to decline when the balance of the sex began to equal (Women, 2000). In the 1800’s many states started to pass laws that granted men the authority to control their wife’s assets. These same states made it a man responsibility for their wife’s actions. Many think that women’s liberation started in the late 1800’s, but it can be traced back to 1404. It started with allowing women access to education. An early supporter was Margaret Fell (1614-1702). She took an active role in defending women’s right to preach and to take an active role in religion. Mary Astell (1666-1731), wanted to establish schools for higher education for unmarried women. She felt it was necessary for women to develop their rational capacity for thinking, which would help to be more rational as wives and mothers. Catherine Macauley (1731-1791) expressed that both girls and boys should be exposed to the same actives, both physical and academic. There were men that felt strongly in their cause; Condorcet (1743-1794) was not only for the education of women, but also equal civil rights and political rights. He wrote, “Either no member of the human race has real rights or else all have the same.” (1790). Not all women believed in the higher education of women, Anna Barbauld and Hannah More were two examples of not supporting this cause. They were called the bluestocking, while they were engaged in politics and morals of the time; they did not support the education of women. Often, women were regarded as inferior to men. It has been called the “cult of true womanhood” (Women, 2003). This combined piety and domesticity with submissiveness and passivity. Sarah Josephe Hall, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1832, wrote” a true woman was delicate and timid, that required protection and possessed a sweet dependency”. This gave to the ideology of why women should stay home and take care of the family. The opposite was said of men, the reason for them belonging outside of the house in the world of business was because they were competitive, aggressive and materialistic. It was felt that because women were modest and pure, that their roles were that of staying at home and educating the children. This would eventually lead women to become teachers outside of the home. While marriage was usually the best route for women in the early years, society expected women to marry and feel that they had fulfilled their lives. Most marriage in the history was arranged marriage. It was not until the mid-eighteen century that marriage was based on love and affection. Women of these companion marriages were believed to be more nurturing as mothers and sexual pure moral guardians. Women had to endure many problems. In most states, women were considered to the property of their husbands. Women had no right to control their personal property, no right to earn money, could not enter into any contracts and no rights for guardian ship over their children. If a woman was to divorce she would very seldom...
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