Women’s Roles Then and Now
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Women’s Roles Then & Now
In the modern world, all people in developed countries have equal rights regardless of their gender, social status, color of skin or faith. However, it was not always this way. Only a few centuries ago the social norms were significantly different. Throughout the history, only white male members of society had full rights. What is more, relatively not long ago from the historical point of view, namely the 19th century, human rights have not been equally distributed between all the members of society.
This period brought about a great change into the way of life people led. The United States had faced deep societal transformations during the time when the suffrage movement emerged. The Women’s Suffragist movement fought for equal rights of men and women in society and also contributed much to the struggle of Afro-Americans for their rights and freedoms. There were many great women who joined the suffrage movement and made a significant contribution into the development of the US as a democratic nation. Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony are the renowned persons whose actions and sacrifices made in the name of equality of men and women inspire people all over the world in their fight for the rights, freedoms and personal dignity.
Both of them were born at the beginning of 19th century. Cady Stanton was born on November 12, 1815 in New York and Susan Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in Massachusetts. The two women had much in common; both of them were born in big families and received a good education, which later became decisive in forming their views. However, it should be noted that it was a usualthing to have up to 10 or even more children at that time. This phenomenon was caused by the fact that women’s main role was to look after children and manage the house. The two activists met in 1851 at anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls and continued to keep in touch and perform mutual actions ever since. (Gordon, n.d.)
The position of women in the society of 19th century in America was restricted to a number of duties and regulated by countless limitations. Morals were a determining factor in forming societal relationships. The major part of society was extremely conservative, the issue of sex was a taboo topic, abortion was banned, and due to the virtual absence of contraception, women had to give birth to a large number of children during their lifetime. It is easy to understand what further problems stemmed from the conditions women have been kept in. Having to devote most of their time to family, children and doing the house chores, women did not have the time and desire to get into politics or social issues. Employment laws were unequal until 1870, when females were given the right to engage in each and every occupation. According to the US Census, women could not have a high number of occupations or play a more important role in the development of society. For example, after 1870, two third of teachers were women, which made a significant influence on the development of their communities. (Wayne, n.d.) Nevertheless, women did not have the right to vote and thus could not express their opinion on what was going on in the world, which was a major drawback of the society of those times.
As it was stated above, Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony were a part of the suffrage movement and strived to give woomen and men equal rights so that women’s voice could finally be heard it its full strength. Both of them were very progressive for their time, and they would agree that a woman’s role is not only to sit at home and take care of their children. They thought women had much to give for the development of society and make the surrounding male world less aggressive by diluting it with tolerance, calmness and understanding. This opinion is supported by their actions: the two women were active members of the suffrage movement and founded National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. They also wrote many articles and books on this topic and continued to give speeches around America. Susan Anthony even got arrested and fined 100$ for violating election laws in 1873. (Gordon, n.d.)
Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony died in New York on October 26, 1902 and March 13, 1906, but their legacy continues to live and inspire human rights activists today. (Gordon) These two great women would be happy to see what path the society took during the last century and the position of woman today. They would be glad to see that their efforts have not gone in vain and that not only men and women have equal rights; moreover, people are not judged by the color of their skin or religion. They would also be pleased to see how the feminist movement continues to fight for the rights and freedoms of women worldwide and how justice is brought to places where women are still being oppressed.
The American society has come a long way since 19th. People have learnt what tolerance and equality mean. The society should strive to preserve what it has achieved to further improve the position of the minorities or those being oppressed.
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