Women gaining rights throughout history
I feel the reason women began earning rights during this time period is because of religion and the effects of war. For the longest time throughout the world, women were just seen as secondary to men, being married off for economic benefits. In Europe there was a strict patriarchal power, education was only limited to men, but women could inherit land. In Islam, women would receive half the inheritance of a male, women’s testimonies had less influence then a male testimony, but women were exposed to education.
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India was a very strict society when it came to the female gender because it was also a patriarchal society, they practiced sati (widow burning), early marriage of children, both male and female, and omen had “wedding dowries” which meant they were a financial burden to their family. China, during the Mining dynasty, was also a very strict time period for women due to being confined to their homes, having their feet bound, and having infanticide of female babies be a common occurrence since your status was based on the amount of males in the family.
Due to Backbit and Schism, not only did it bring Islam and Hinduism together in new forms of religious expression, but they both were also in favor of women. A famous Backbit poet was Miramar (1498-1547), she offended the caste extractions when she refused to perform sati and also when she took an old untouchable shoe maker as her guru. You could say she was one of the first feminists in India. Schism was a new religious tradition in Northern India, founded by Guru Nanas (1469-1539).
His idea’s “generally ignored caste distinctions and intractability and ended the seclusion of women, while proclaiming ‘the brotherhood of all mankind’ as well as essential equality of men and women” (739). Though these two movements improved the status of women and spread equality, Schism evolved from a peaceful religious pavement to a militant community, leading to them being highly valued by the British in a later take over by them. Religion was not only a key factor in the changes for women in India, but also for Spanish America where missionaries began going to this region and introducing the bible.
As a result of this, women learned how to read, a very big step seeing as education in most regions was not wasted on females but kept strictly for the men. This wave of religion closed the door to women who had served as shamans, priests, and ritual specialists, due to the church being an all- male clergy, and penned a new door for women to ” convent life, which was reset-Veda largely for Spanish women in the America’s” (728). Though the church opened an alternative door to the closing of women’s old practices, it was expensive to convert and especially for women, showing that there is still oppression, just slightly less suppose.
One famous Spanish female that was brought up on Christianity was Ursula De Jesus, born in 1606. Ursula was born the daughter of a slave and at the age of eight was sent by her mother’s wealthy, female owner, to live with another elite woman who was known for her elisions visions. Five years later, Ursula went to live in the Convent of Santa Clara, always looking “beautifully adorned from head to toe” (730), and later selling all her clothing after a near death experience.
She began devoting every spare moment to prayer and whipping herself twice a day, wearing a crown of thorns to enhance her identification to the pain Jesus Christ endured. Even after her freedom was bought, she stayed at the convent creating “a modest elevation in her social status, an opportunity to pursue spiritual life with fewer restrictions, and a measure of social and economic security’ (731 leading to everyone confining their sins in her and seeing her in an elevated status.
Ursula was the first powerful example of how religion could provide a break in the social norm for female, providing them with meaning, a sense in purpose besides just marriage. The Scientific and Enlightenment movement in Western Europe was a result of Europe having a lot of money due to slavery, imperialism, and because new markets in Europe were searching for a way to have more productivity. Not only did the Scientific and Enlightenment movement change technology and shape production but t also brought about “the question of women’s nature, their role in society, and the education most appropriate for them” (746).
Many women such as Madame Blamer and Mary Woolgathering aggressively defended the necessity of women being equally educated to men. Mar’s statement, that was arguing Rousseau about women being inferior, expresses that without women being educated progress will be limited, ” Till women are more rationally educated, the progress of human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual This statement set the stage for many more debates to come throughout the centuries that followed, specially since the campaign for women’s rights in France had just been launched the following year.
The French Revolution( 1789-1799) was tied very closely with this stir in women demanding equal rights, the problem with this is that whenever a woman stood up to the patriarchal society, such as Olympia De Gouges who published ” Declaration of The Rights of Woman”, they met the fate of the guillotine. Instead of being completely radical, women took the lead in matters such as providing food for their families, food price increases led to riots in 1 792 and 1793. Women were the ones emending the lower prices and later in 1 793, women activists set up their own political clubs in hopes to gain political education.
Though these clubs did not endorse full political rights for women, it did propose ways for women to participate in the war. In October 1 793, the revolutionary government outlawed all women’s clubs. With this ban on women’s clubs came the death of Marie-Jeanne and Olympia De Gouges, two leading women in this movement killed by the guillotine. The queen was also sentenced to death, leaving ordinary women to try and make their way through this difficult political and economic climate. Many ordinary women went to prison due to complaining about food shortages, and for criticizing authorities and local officials.
Though women’s activism was rising and falling constantly, another role opened up for women which was being the symbol of revolutionary values. The values behind revolutions- liberty, equality, reason, fraternity, etc. – were represented by women dressed in Roman attire. This created a paradox within the history Of the French Revolution, ‘Though the male revolutionaries refused to grant women equal political rights, they put pictures of women on everything, from coins and bills and letterheads to even swords and playing cards.
Women might appear in real-life stories of heroism, but they were much more likely to appear as symbols of something else” (Women and the Revolution). Women did not achieve the right to vote during the French Revolution but as Constance Pellet said, it did force women to become more aware of their role in society. Not only did it force women in France to be more aware, but forced women all over to become aware. In Europe and America, “Growing middle classes of industrialization societies, more women found both educational opportunities and some redeem from household drudgery.
Such women increasingly took part in temperance movements, charities, abolitionism, and missionary work, as well as socialist and pacifist organizations” (806), Demonstrating how far the echoes of the French Revolution reached. Feminism became a growing movement on both sides of the Atlantic, the first women’s rights conference was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Among the females of America was Elizabeth Caddy Stanton, a women who was a feminist leader and wrote a Women’s Bible, expressing parts she found offensive towards women in the Bible.
By the 1 ass’s, feminists targeted the issue of suffrage specifically and were gaining momentum in their movement. Most of these women organizations were peaceful , “but the British Women’s Social and Political Union organized a campaign of violence that included blowing up railroad stations, slashing works of art, and smashing department store Women became radical in Europe and America, refusing to take their husbands last names or wearing pants under their skirts. The movement went from a growing movement to a mass movement, spreading rapidly and creating many organizations supporting equality, education, and ports unity for women.
The movement made some progress, by 1 893 New Zealand was the first to grant all adult women the right to vote. In the early sass’s, some upper and middle class women were allowed to go to universities, woman were taught more frequently how to read, and in America many states granted woman the power to control and manage their own property and wages, and also in some places file for a divorce. More jobs opened up for women as well such as Florence Nightingale in Britain, which attracted thousands of women to the nursing career. Another field that became dominated by women was social working, created by Jane Adams.
Though women were making progress, the real progress would not come until after World War one when women power was needed. During World War One, “it marked the first time in the history of the country that regular Army and Navy military nurses served overseas?although without rank?and the first time, women who were not nurses were allowed to enlist in the Navy and Marine Corps. A handful of women also served in the Coast Guard. The US Army, however, refused to enlist women officially, relying on them as contract employees and civilian volunteers” (World War 1 : Women and the War).
Besides working as nurses to help out the war effort, women that were bilingual also worked as telephone operators for the army, and some women joined humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, YMCA, and Salvation Army, to also help during wartime. The significance during this time period was not only that women now could obtain a job, but it also marked a new era of women entering the public sphere. After the war was over, women still remained in the public realm, striving for new roles in the workplace and a higher education.
In 1 920, women in America received the right to vote and tot to long after in 1928, England’s women received the right to vote as well. This demand for equality and education not only changed women’s role socially but also children’s roles and the realm of literature. Without women expressing this need for education, children would have remained in the factories, working in horrible conditions and most often being badly injured. With the switch of children from factories to school came a generation of children who would not have to make their children work in the same conditions they had to.
As a reaction to this oppression women faced, many kooks were produced that are important to Literature even today such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Rye, and The Feminine Mystique. Women, just as with the French Revolution, became the symbol of World War Two (1939-1945). Instead of being seen as majestic women in a toga’s, women were displayed in working outfits such as “Rosier The Riveter” with catch phrases like” we can do it” or ” You give us the fire, we’ll give me’ hell”. This is very significant because women were not just the symbol of the war but were also a strong help to the war.
The government at first politely discouraged omen who wanted to help with the war, but after realizing they would need much more help than expected, women took on the technical jobs normally performed by men. Women war forces also were not supposed to go outside of Australia, but as the war heightened, women were overseas in New Guiana working as anti-aircraft gunners, drivers, mechanics, and radio operators. Not only did women play a strong role in the World War one and two, but also in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1 ass’s and ass’s. Martin Luther King Jar. As the face of the Civil Rights Movement, but without the help of women he loud not have been able to make such a big impact. Though women gained their suffrage in the sass’s, black females were still oppressed due to Jim Crow laws. Women were the ones using their organizational skills and grassroots activism to bring this movement to a success, though Malcolm X and Martin Luther became the symbol of this movement. Daisy Bates (1914-1999) was the one in 1957 who guided the nine black students who triggered a civil rights showdown when they attempted to enter the all-white Central High school in Little Rock.
Another important African American Woman Was Dorothy Height (1912-2010), who Was the longtime president Of the National Council of Negro Women and also a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Besides just African American and white women gaining more rights and entering the public sphere, so did Japanese women during this time period due to World War Two. For a long time, Japanese women would work in silk, textile, and weaving factories, maintaining a poor status until they married, which is when they were to quit their jobs and become house wives.
By 1 943, due to the shortage of men caused by the war, women entered factory jobs. Women that were unmarried and old enough to leave school were required to work in fields such as aircraft manufacturing electrical factories, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. Though the percentage of Japanese helping on the home front was much smaller than the American women percentage, it is still very significant because this was a dramatic change for the lives of these Japanese women. Just like in America, Japanese women were being paid less than men and conditions by the end of the war were awful.
By the time the war was over, food was very little and much Japan lay in ruins, being occupied by America. This is where the Japanese women differed from the American women of this time period, they were living in awful conditions and hungry for food for them and their children, much like the women of the French Revolution. By the end of the war, women were granted rights equivalent to women in western societies. Without World War two pushing women into the work force, it may have been decades before they were able to step up to the plate and compete with the men. Today, the world looks very different for women then it did in the sass’s.
In Time Magazine on March 26th, they displayed statistics showing a haft in earning power, “Almost 40% of wives make more money than their husbands…. Women today make up almost 60% of IIS college students and earn the majority of doctorates and master degrees” (Gender inequality in the U. S. Today). This is obviously a giant change in the status of women, showing that women are close to, if not already, beating men when it comes to education and employment. Though things have become better though, does not mean inequality has disappeared completely from the surface.
A huge piece of evidence to inequality still existing is that ‘Women working full time ND men working full time: women earn a median weekly wage that’s only 81% of a man’s weekly median wage. And even more importantly the percentage of managers who are women has risen from 35% to only 38% of the last twenty years”( Gender Inequality in The U. S. Today). This is outrageous seeing as in 2010, women made up 50. 8% of the population in America and also made up half the workforce. Even though women are working, does not mean there is equality. Besides the wages being unequal, men also hold most of the higher positions in the workforce.
In 220 years, only four women justices have served on the Supreme Court and besides that actor, We have never had a women president. Today in congress, only 1 7 seats are held out of 1 00 by women and only 92 out of 435 House seats. Though these facts are plain to see, many people believe that inequality is a thing of the past. In other parts of the world, inequality is still a very blunt reality for many women. India ranks 132 out of 187 countries on the gender inequality index, with Indian families favoring boys and female fetid being a common occurrence.
Women above the age of 15 only made up 29% of the countries labor force in 2011 where in America women made up 50. 7% of the work force. India has always witnessed gender inequality as a result of its “socio-economic and religious practices that resulted in a wide gap between the position of men and women in society” (Gender inequality In Modern India-scenario and Solution). An example Of this is how in the Ramadan, Ram is a model for how men should act and Sits is the model for women, displaying sexism and violence against women.
Women have it so awful in India that “Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment occurring, every 43 minutes a woman kidnapped and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt for dowry… Rapes involve girls under the age of 16 years. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested and every 34 minutes a rape take place” (Gender Inequality in Modern India-Scenario and Solution). Another region gender inequality is plainly seen is Islam. Although the Quasar’s teachings display that equality is needed between men and women, Islamic laws display another view of oppression placed upon women.
Some of the laws against women are that they have no equal rights to men when it comes to making an independent decision about who to marry, divorce, or custody of children. Another oppressive factor against women besides the law is religion, though he Quern can be read as equality amongst man and woman, when it is reinterpreted it seems to place men over women. An example of this is “Curran verse 4. 34, which refers to men as ‘guardians’ (gunman) (over women), used to justify gender roles and male privilege over Sexuality, Gender, and Islam).
Many have argued thought that this verse may say guardian, but has a different meaning then what they are using it for. Some have said that it is supposed to mean that when your wife is ill or conceiving children, just anything really, you are supposed to protect her and help her get through whatever is occurring. This seems like a better reading then claiming that men have power over women, but still, they do in Islam. This very verse is why, embedded in Muslim laws and societies, men have complete control over women.
So instead of religion benefiting women as it has once in history, it is actually one of the most oppressive factors due to the meaning people take out of it. China, like America, has made much progress with equality among men and women, but there are still problems that cannot be overlooked. It seems over time there has been a decline in women in the workforce, going from over 90% of working-age women being employed in 1 970 to 60. 8% in 2010. This decline came about because China fired tens of millions Of workers at state owned enterprises, Women were fired disproportionately over men.
Also around this period, a “Women Return to Home” movement emerged so that women would quit their jobs, return to domestic duties, and make way for men in the work force during a time of rising unemployment. Society views that women need to be married before they are too old and unwanted by a groom create pressure on young females, resulting in them abandoning their careers or talents to worry about being the perfect housewife for a husband. So there you have it, the progress of women over a time period of almost six hundred years. Many regions such as China, Islam, and India are still struggling when it comes to equality, but why?
My guess would have to be that it’s caused by being developing countries still. China may have agriculture, Physical infrastructure, and gross economic development, but almost half of its country is still rural. This is why I feel Chinese women gained few rights and are now slowly being pushed back out, they are not developed as the rest of the world, but are half way there in their effort to. So what about the future you may ask, it is art to say how long it will take seeing as all this progress took close to six hundred years, but I have faith that one day the whole world will have equality between woman and man.