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Women's Changing Opportunities Throughout History

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Women's changing opportunities throughout history

Throughout history women have had less career opportunities and legal rights than men have. The greatest profession for women had been viewed as motherhood. Over time there has been a great and memorable change for women, they headed in the direction of equality while educational and job opportunities grew. Society has seen the importance that women hold with their talents and skills, their changing roles may have been inevitable. Women's greatest accomplishment was their battle to stand in society as men have as they veered away from their traditional role in society.

Prior to the nineteenth century social places were separate for men and women, the majority of places were still for men. There were limits as to what women could do for a career, mostly women could participate in education or work for fun rather than to support themselves or their families. The typical life path for a woman was marriage and family, where her responsibility was tending to a home and caring for the needs of her children and spouse (Bowles, 2010). The role of women in the nineteenth century began to drastically change as doors opened outside the home with new opportunities. Women started to find a new place in this world as traditional beliefs started changing towards feministic views.

Women took part in the antislavery movement which was a time when everyone was inferior to the white male. Black female abolitionists organized female antislavery societies and staged protests and boycotts in support of immediate emancipation (Bennett, 1988).Women during this time felt that they could identify with slaves because they had no rights. Though sometimes thought to be rebellious; these women spoke in an age when respectable women did not speak in public (Time-Life Books, 1993). In 1833 the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded. In 1840, the first female, Abby Kelly was elected into an all white male committee, causing a divide in the society. Later there were several other women elected to the committee who would join her in the fight against slavery. This was a society run by white men, "to put a woman on the committee with me is contrary to the usages of civilized society" statedLewes Tappen who was also a member (Bennett ). Tappen later resigned his seat in the committee, there was however a man who supported women as well as blacks to be part of this committee. William L. Garrison encouraged them to take an active part in the anti-slavery organization (Bennett).

This was just the beginning of women realizing they had the strength to push society and find a place where they could be treated with the same equality as men. They wanted the right to an education as well as working positions to support their families. With these rights came changes not only in society, but also vast changes in home life. The major roles such as cooking, cleaning, and tending to the children would no longer be a woman's main priority; they wanted to take part in the outside world first. Through the discovery of their desires there was still a long road ahead for women to be accepted into society the way a man was.

In order to gain a clear understanding of the change in women's lives over the years we have to look back at where the changes started. In Colonial America women used to be looked at as an object to bear children and care for them as well as the home. She had no rights over her possessions including her children. A woman's status depended on her husband's status, his money, land, and any possessions were considered his and she lived under him. She was legal incompetent, as children, idiots, and criminals were under English law, as feme covert she was stripped of property; once married, the clothes on her back, her personal possessions- whether valuable, mutable or merely sentimental and even her body became her husbands, to direct, manage, and use, once a child born to the couple, her land too came under his control (Berkin, 1992).

The status a woman held in society could be determined by her daily duties or routines such as caring for children, cooking, cleaning, weaving, ect. Most women were seen as inferior since the men completed the heavy duty and important jobs such as hunting, plowing, construction, and so on. Men were viewed as having strength whereas the women were viewed as weak and couldn't handle the dutiesa man could. Since Colonial American women were viewed as weak, they couldn't hold occupations outside the home as they may be incapable of those duties. Threw the times of American history is seems as if women and men almost lived in different worlds. Men spent the majority of their time working outside the home. A mans world was one of political and financial affairs and in general living in and making deals with the world at large while the woman's place was in the home. Many Americans believed that this distinct separation and balancing of gender roles was essential to the harmonious and functioning society (Bender, 1996). This idea throughout the colonial and post-Revolutionary America left women isolated.

Most women were denied the rights and access to attend and educational institute. Those who were able to attend were daughters of the rich and that was very few. Though they went to school they only learned the very basics or reading, writing, and other skills. Many believed that granting the same kind of education to a women as men would be considered a commodity and would be hard to justify as they were inferior (Clinton, 1986).women began to fight for their rights in gaining an education. Elizabeth Blackwell is known for the winning that battle and not only entering school, but graduating first in her medical class, she made history becoming a female doctor. Women at this point did have some jobs, but mostly in areas such as teaching, librarians, and governesses.

During Civil War times women's rights were placed on the back burner as the fight against slavery rose to the front. A profound statement was made by Abraham Lincoln "One war at a time, so I say one question at a time. This hour belongs to the negro". This was very true, but regardless of the hour women were fighting to show their capabilities. They were being trained to be a part of our war in the way of nursing. One woman, Mary Walker took her strength so far that she became a doctor in the army and the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor from the United States Government. This was a major accomplishment for the stance of women in society.

Women's Opportunities 5

Women began to feel tired of their exclusions from political, social, and economic opportunities, in the 19th Century they began to



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