In Human History, Women have had Comparatively Limited Legal Rights.

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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 In the early days, femininity was greatly associated with weakness. Men considered women incapable of performing duties that required the use of high levels of physical energy or intellect. Women neither made financial decisions, owned property nor enjoyed public life (McCammon et al., 52).

Their primary duty in the society was to bear and nurture children. In texts “A Sorrowful Women” by Gail Godwin and “Shout” by Dagoberto Gilb shows women that all they did was exactly that where they couldn’t do much due to the time period.

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In the US, It is not until in the 20th century that women rights were fully embraced across all the states. Women won themselves the right to vote and increased their chances of getting education and job. This achievement was not granted to them but rather, was a result of a fierce struggle in almost the whole of the preceding century. The life for women in the 1800s was one of determination and courage as they fought against gender discrimination.

By 1800, the US economy was already thriving with most of the men abandoning farming and grazing for such occupations like shop-keeping and office jobs (Liddington and Norris, 27). As men moved out for their day to day activities, women were left home since at the time they were not allowed to do such kind of jobs. Perhaps, it is the unprecedented “separation” that opened their eyes.

They were now to take care of the homestead and were not under the authority of their husbands. In the churches also, women felt a bit independent from men and, to some extent, the church also put some effort to empower them. However, according to McCammon et al. (49), it was not until after the civil war that woman came to realize their power. As the men went out to fight, women were left to run their husbands’ businesses. When the war ended, men were not pleased with the roles the women had assumed. They sort to push them back to their low profile. But women were not ready for that. They initiated a movement that would fight for their rights. Through the movement for example, they pushed for “equal pay for equal work”. They also demanded that they be allowed to do jobs that they were capable of.

In the text “A sorrowful women” all the women could do was clean the house and take care her child. She would bring her husband breakfast in bed and make dinner for her husband and her child. She would always be the one to clean the house and the only source of income was the husbands. In the text “Shout” the wife was always getting screamed at and was taking care of her three children, she would also clean the house and do everything the husband asked for. When she didn’t have the door open for the husband when he got to work the husband would raise his voice and tell her she better have it open in the future. She was living a with a husband that she wasn’t happy with but she had no say in whether to divorce him or not.

Education was exclusively a preserve for the male gender. However, woman started fighting for their rights to also access education in the 19th century. They felt that, as the primary trainer of the kids, it was important first of all they undergo some training themselves. Since men were still resistant to women’s education, they never accommodated the female gender effectively into the education system.

Women therefore pursued their own education and it is during this time that quite a good number of female colleges sprung in the country (Women’s Rights and Citizenship throughout US History, 2018). The colleges focused more on improving the home environment. It was also out of the societal responsibility that women sort to have a say in the schools from where their children are taught. They launched campaigns for them to take part in making decisions in school boards. According to “”, in 1838, windowed women in Kentucky who had children in school were allowed to vote in the school board elections. In 1861, women in Kansas were granted an opportunity to vote in school board elections. The trend would follow across all the states later.

The 19th century was one that significantly defined the American woman. The gradual change of social conditions and the agitation for equality led to formation of the Woman Suffrage Movement (Liddington and Norris, 31). Their increased education levels and their participation in reform movements like ‘abolition’ brought them in the political landscape. In the 1800s slavery characterized most of the regions in the US. Slaves, who were obviously the black people, were inhumanely treated. They enjoyed no rights or human dignity. The black women were encouraged to bear more kids to increase the labor force. But the women, already in a strong movement, joined hands with other anti-slavery campaigners to fight for the dignity of the slaves. They bravely condemned the injustices that the individuals had to undergo. Lucretia Mott, Lydia Maria Child and Mary Livermore were among the women who were in the forefront to publicly to fight for the end of slavery through the abolitionist movement. Their role in the movement appropriately positioned for the campaign for women’s voting rights that would follow.

The women’s role in abolition motivated them to fight for their rights to vote. In 1869, Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Susan B. Anthony co-founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association (ThoughtCo). At the time of the starting, the movement had different goals including advocating for equal pay and legal equality. However, the fight for women’s voting rights gained a lot of momentum. It was believed that once the women secure rights to vote, then it would be easy for them to get the other rights.

The suffragists not only met opposition from their male counterparts but also from some women (Clinton and Colbert, 54). The Society Women of Beacon Hill for example did not support the voting rights for the women. They claimed that corruption characterized the country’s politics and if women participated in politicking they would also be corrupted. The Democratic Party’s opposition to the women’s agitation was based on the fear that granting the suffragists rights to vote would end up opening an opportunity for the black women to also have the same rights. However, despite the numerous forces that acted to maintain the status quo, including the alcohol brewers, media and even their husbands, the determined women did not allow their campaigns to be frustrated. On July 19 and 20, 1848, over 300 women converged for the first women’s rights convention ( On October 23-24, 1850, the first National Woman’s Rights Convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts. It brought together over 1000 women. Such conventions would henceforth happen annually until 1860.

Within a century, the US woman had given a new face to the social structure. The dignity, rights and potential of humanity, regardless of their sex, was realized. Women who were African Americans and mere slaves redefined themselves. Some of them become preachers, teachers and writers. Sojourner Truth, for example, who was emancipated from slavery in 1827, turned to be an itinerant preacher who publicly advocated for human equality (ThoughtCo). White female writers also fueled the campaigns for equal rights through their literary works.

Notably, many women started working during this time for a living. Among these women was Betsy Ross who made the first United States flag in the late 1800s (Liddington and Norris, 24). By that time she was already a specialized professional like many other women in the country. In general, despite the general notion that women were inferior and that they could not participate in public life, a few revolutionary women pushed for the rightful place of the woman in the society. Today, women are present in all walks of life. There are no longer gender discriminations in the country. These achievements should always make us to thankfully appreciate the sacrifice made by a few women in the 1800s for gender equality.

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In human history, women have had comparatively limited legal rights.. (2021, Nov 30). Retrieved from