This is a dissertation chapter on Women:
Since the first American colonies existed, women have been characterized for having less civil rights with less career opportunities than men. For many years women have been fighting to enjoy their own rights. Women have raised their voices to demand their full civil and political rights. Women have had to overcome many economic, political, and even social obstacles created by men just to be treated in an equal way in the American society.
Generally, the women’s lives have been characterized for being women full of struggles, obstacles and pain. That is why women decided to demand their own rights through their vote. Which their vote will symbolize the expression of their rights and voices in the face of the American society. The first obstacle that women had to overcome was to get their right to vote. It was an obstacle because women without vote married women did not have a legal voice in the face of the government. During the early history of the United States, a man owned his wife and children as they were any material of his possessions. For example if a poor man decided to drop his children to the poorhouse, the children’s mother was unable to defense her children (Women’s International Center 2).
They are some of several obstacles in the old American society. However these obstacles came from the traditional society custom. The traditional roles for women were to raise children and just to become a wife and a mother. Even thought it is hard to understand that motherhood and wifehood were the most significant professions that women could have (Women’s International Center 1). Women could not enter most professions. Women had to overcome the obstacle regarding educational areas. To be more specific a daily life of a girl of 19-years-old was to be sitting for hours sewing gloves in the company of other women, working for low wages, with no aspiration, with no hope of going on in school or even owning any kind of property. In fact, if she decided to marry, her children and even the clothes on her body would belong to her husband (Clinton 35). Women had to study traditional areas like writing or teaching (Women’s International Center 3) and if they study those untraditional disciplines like medicine, economic or law, they will considered odd (Kreeps 35). This obstacle is more than an obstacle it is a limitation for the women’s development.
“Working women often faced discrimination on the mistaken belief that, they were married or would most likely get married; they would not be permanent workers” (Women’s International Center 3). The women working in some “men’s professions and jobs” (Women’s International Center 2), caused an huge economic obstacle in the American society because if a woman that worked in a same job than a men, women were paid about 45 percent less than men for the same jobs (Barko 43). In the American society was a lot of limitation in the areas of career opportunities. However, in the United States during the World War II almost 300,000 women served in the Army and Navy, working as secretaries, typists, and nurses (Women’s International Center 3). It was a big step for women in the labor area because in 1989, women were part of a 45 percent of employed persons in the United States, but they had only a small participation in the decision-making jobs (Women’s International Center 3).
Women could not decide how many children they would like to have. Families had, on average seven children to take care. Many women died in childbirth, and many others did not see their own children grow into adulthood (Costello 25). Abortion was also a political and, social obstacle because both the government and the church did not agree this idea. Women did not have the right to control even their own body, specially the right to control their own sexual reproduction (Eisenberg 5). Limitations on a woman’s rights included the inability to establish a legal identity separate from that of her husband, to control her reproductive capacity, to sue or be sued, to own property in her own name, or to pursue a career of her choice (Jarvis, 150). The inability of taking the control of their own reproduction was a huge obstacle for women because women with a lot of children could not work; they had to take care of their babies. And these women with babies become dependable of their husbands simply because their husbands bring the money to home.
The status of women under the law began to change once women began to organize for their political rights and voting for policies that were in their interests (Jarvis 151-52). If Women did not have the right to vote, they could not express themselves through it, they would not have the respect that they deserve. After women recognized all of these kinds of obstacles, women decided to stop the unfairness treatment for them.
The awakening of women began with the visit to America of Frances Wright—a Scottish lecturer and journalist — who promoted women’s rights through the United States during the 1800s (From Revolution to Reconstruction.). Women realized that they should fight for their own rights. In the 1840s a group of American women got together to began to demand for the Women’s Rights Movement (Eisenberg 1-2). This group was lead by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott which they organized the first Women convention at Seneca Falls, New York. The convention was a declaration to demand their equality with men to the eyes of the law, the right to vote, and equal opportunities in education and employment (Eisenberg 1-2).
Getting the right to vote at the convention at the Seneca Falls was the first women’s obstacle overcame. However, in the same year, Ernestine Rose, a Polish immigrant, was the key for getting a law passed in the State of New York that allowed married women to own their property rights which this helped to declare the Married Women’s Property Act (From Revolution to Reconstruction.). Thanks to these declarations today the things had been changed because women now can own any kind of property. And they not only vote but vote in larger numbers than men (Costello 25).
According to Juanita M. Kreps in her article, “In time several major social changes altered women’s lives dramatically. More and more women—including married and single women and those with and without young children—joined the labor force. And Education and training opportunities for women expand a little more.” Through the declaration of the women’s civil rights, now they can live a life without sex discrimination which also was an obstacle overcame. Today, sex discrimination had been prohibited by the federal and state law, in employment, education and housing (American Civil Liberties Union). Now most of the professions are open to women, although the “glass ceiling” is still a barrier to women’s development in their jobs (Costello 25) because the opportunities exist but those are really hard to reach for women.
Now most American have to assume that the legal status of women in the United Stated today is so well established that it is not subject to significant challenges. At the end of the twentieth century, the status of women in U.S. society was getting a tremendous change. In recent years, the opinions relating to a women’s right to control her reproductive process, and equal level to educational opportunities have dominated the public discussion. Looking toward the next century, it is clear that legal issues concerning the status of American women including their personal lives, at school, in the workplace, and at the ballot box will continue to have a significant impact on women’s ability to succeed in the aspect of global economy (Jarvis 153).
Today’s women are very different from the Colonial times even socially, politically, and economically. Now women can vote and express their voices through it. And actually women vote in larger numbers than men. However, how we can explain in the history of this country we have not experienced the time of having a woman as a President of the United States.
Now many educational and jobs opportunities exist on an equal level for women and men. The right of abortion, while still under attack, is guaranteed by the Constitution. As a result of these obstacles, women today participate in all aspect of society on a more equal basis than ever before.
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