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New Opportunities for Women in Society - Essay Example

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While women once had few life options beyond isolation in the domestic sphere, what historical developments presented new opportunities for women in society? NAME AND NUMBER 07/11/2011 Whilst America is widely considered to be a country with one of the highest rates of equal opportunities, it has not always been that way…
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Download file to see previous pages Women have been awarded bachelors degrees for centuries, have the vote, and are not generally victimized in society. Women can now hold any position available to a man, take the same degree courses, and vote in the same elections as men, although there are still some inequalities present. This paper will look at the historical developments that have led to the status of women in society today, including the Seneca Falls convention and the provision of education for women. It will examine how these developments have led to new opportunities for women in the United States, so that now more women than ever have a career (Baker, 1984). It is these historical developments, amongst others, that have allowed women to move out of the domestic sphere and into the working world. 18th Century America and the Salem Witch Trials The situation for women in the late 17th and early 18th centuries is where the discussion of women in the United States will begin. Women at this time were expected to be confined to the domestic sphere and did not generally hold down jobs in the same way that men did. In some states, women did have the ability to vote but these rights were generally lost over the coming years, in some cases because married women did not legally have ownership of anything and therefore were not considered as individuals (Matthaei, 1982). They were expected to run the household, and did not have any educational qualifications (Evans, 1997). Families were also generally larger in this era than they are today, and women were expected to care for their children as part of their homely role. Further than this, childbirth was also far more dangerous and many women did not survive pregnancy because of the poor health provisions (Rosen, 1973). Women of the time were often taught to read for Bible reading purposes, but there was no desire to teach women how to write and there was no formal education for females (Matthaei, 1982). Women were also viewed as being under the control of their father or their husband, or another male figure if these weren't applicable, often being traded for furthering the family status. These problems were further compounded by the fact that the highly Puritanical society in some areas saw females as being more prone to sin than men, casting a shadow over the role of women in society. It was this view that led to the events of the Salem Witch Trials, in which 13 women were hanged. It must be noted here that men were also victim of the accusations, but they were aimed primarily at women. This further highlights the status of women as inferior within the society, and provides a good starting point to show just how far women have moved from this original starting point and how much has been gained for women's rights. It is also interesting to note the role of women in the Revolutionary War. Women were not permitted to fight (although one, Deborah Samson, did fight by disguising herself as a man) but they were permitted to have roles as nurses and cooks, as well as other secondary roles (Segal, 1981). Women were not permitted into the army until much later, but it is interesting that they were allowed to participate in some activities, which would be unheard of in many other countries at the time. It was this Revolution that brought about the idea of Republican Motherhood, placing women in the role of correctly bringing up the children in order for society to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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