WOMEN IN WESTERN SOCIETY
Since the beginning of mankind women have been dominated by men. They were to obey and serve man. Their main role in society was to bear children, take care of the household and to be loyal and faithful to their husbands. They were to remain subjects to males. Many viewed women as slaves to man and that should be placed in a household where they belong because women could not perform the tasks of men.
During the renaissance family played a crucial role for women. Parents, often to strengthen business and to tighten family bonds arranged many marriages. The male figure was the head of the family. He had authority over everyone. He was in charge and managed of all legal and finical problems. The woman managed only the household. Due to the arranged marriages, women had no emotional feelings for their husbands, which led to temptations. Women were sometimes killed for having an affair, where as men were aloud to have a mistress. Most women family life was their only destiny.
Witchcraft affected the lives of many women during the 16th and 17th century. Lots of women were burned at the stake for being accused of being a witch. Most witchcraft trials women of the lower classes were most likely to be accused of witchcraft. But by the mid 17th century this witchcraft craze was starting to vanish.
The Enlightenment questioned the role of women. For centuries men have dominated what the role of women should be. Many male writers believed that that women were lower intellectually value to men. But there were some philosophies, which showed some positive feed back for women. They argued that women were capable of all that men are. It was the woman thinkers who added new perspectives to the women question by suggesting better improvements for woman. Those thinkers believed that woman should be better educated. They should be able to learn what men are learning. A English writer Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was the fonder of modern European feminism. She began the women movement arguing the rights of women. She declared, that women should have equal rights with education and in economic and political life.
During the French Revolution woman began to show that they weren’t afraid anymore. After the Declaration of Rights of Man and citizen on August 26, 1789. Women started questioning themselves , do this rights include women. These law brought about many disputes. One of the biggest disputes is when the women marched to Versailles. Thousands of Parisians women set off for Versailles to confront the king and the national assembly. They were armed with broomsticks, pitch forks, swords, pistols and muskets. They were ready to fight. They killed many of the kings guards forcing the king to give up and change his mind. The women won there battle.
During the Industrial Revolution factories and mines were being built. A new revolution was being born. But the conditions the women and children faced were horribly dreadful. Their work hours stretched from 12-16 hours a day, 6 days a week with half an hour lunch and no minimum wage. The women and children were being abused. After the factory act of 1833 children employment decreased. The women had to replace all the children. Women made up 50% of the work force. They were mostly unskilled and were paid half or less what men were receiving. These women were working and still were able to keep a family at home. Soon later labor organizations and unions were formed. Women gained normal wages and better working conditions.
The women question was brought up again in the 19th century. The role of women was traditionally the same. They would stay home and take care of the family. Many women got married just for the money. Single women didn’t earn enough to live on their own. Due to the lower wage. Women in the working class were accustomed to hard work. Daughters were expected to work until they get married. Even after marriage women would still work at home to earn some extra money. At the beginning of the 20th century families of the working class started to change. Better jobs were created so