|← English Colonist and the New Worlds||Three Most Important Consequences of WWII →|
The road to women gaining certain rights was not an easy task. It was a intricate journey that was full of a lot of inconsistencies. This is because the issue of gender inequality has been there for a long time and in most of the cultures, the males enjoy almost all the rights as opposed to females who are supposed to be submissive. For example in America women began the fight to advocate for equal rights since the inception of the country. Amongst the earliest pioneers for the fight for the rights of women was Abigail Adams as this began as early as in the 18th century. Abigail was said to have written to her husband asking him to have women in mind while he was pursuing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. She was reacting to the cultural framework that trapped women in within the domestic chores. This fight continued and though it was not easy, these women's endeavors began to bear fruits with things such as the attaining of the right to vote by women. This was realized through the struggles of what was being referred to as the suffrage movement for women. The fighting was intense and one woman entered the books of history by casting an "illegal" vote a presidential election. Susan B. Antony was fined and she negligent in paying the fine. This fight continued until women achieved their rights to vote (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
The first wave of the Women's Right Movement
This was well reflected by the birth of the Women's Right Movement which embarked on a phenomenon that was aimed at seeing women stand shoulder to shoulder with their fellow men. In fighting for this basic right, this was not a easy struggle and conflicts and bloodshed were evident in different parts of the world and some women lost their lives in pursuing these rights. Therefore, it is worth noting that the current status of women in the society did not come as a result of a natural progression or as a result of men being open minded, it was slow process that was fueled by painful fighting by women in different parts of the globe. However, the benefits that came about with this were beneficial to the entire society with the growth of the economy as a result of contribution of women in the different tasks of nation building (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
During the American Revolution (1775-1783) so many changes were witnessed in America. The men were focused in fighting against a tyrannical ruler and demanded to be involved in issues concerning the ruling of their country. The Revolution actually succeeded and Americans got their freedom but the whole processing was happening amidst other happenings. There were some internal changes that were taking place during the fighting (Norton & Alexander, 2007). The Revolution instigated the fight for the freedom of the women in this society. Women were slowly progressing to attain political as well as economic gains through their fight to enjoy equal rights as their male counterparts. This came about automatically based on the fact that women were left out alone by their husbands who went out to fight for the national rights.
As a result of this, women had to work so as to take care of the immediate needs of the family as their husbands were not around. Women who had no experience at all of working beyond their homes had to go to the field to work for a whole day. On the other hand, those in the urban areas had to secure a job to be able to feed their family. At this time, in Philadelphia City, the colonial women had to secure a job at home or beyond and most of them were actually paid. As some of these writers indicated in the essays (Norton & Alexander, 2007) these women played a major role in the shaping of the urban community as well as urban culture in the 18th century city.
There was a case of a girl at the age of nineteen, she could keep a diary of the activities that she undertook like working in the textiles, the teaching in school and her personal life undertakings and this was evident that even females as young as nineteen could secure jobs and survive on their own depending on the circumstances. This was happening at around 1792 and this indicated that women now could detach from the men and still earn their survival, at this time those who separated from their husbands, the majority never remarried and they fought for their survival on their own a thing that still contributed to an economic growth too. These ladies who chose to be independent could act economically and legally in a way that their counterparts in marriage could not be able. They could buy and as well sell goods and property, could rent property or even lease as owners, and even secure well paying jobs beyond their homes. Though some women could have been beneficiaries of some wealth left for them this could not be able to sustain them and particularly if they were married by not so rich husbands and therefore freedom was a necessity (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
Throughout the colonial period women's role revolved around the household duties and they had to remain as subordinates to their husbands at all times. It was during nineteenth century as mentioned earlier that the women breathed the fresh air of freedom and began to become self-determined. In the colonies history, the birthrates were too high based on the fact that women married at a very young age and were turned into a kind of children producing machine till they reached menopause age. The major reason for marrying at the time was to secure financial support. These women could undertake as many as ten pregnancies and bear more than eight children in their marriage. On the other hand, a New England woman could have dependent off springs throughout her live making it a full-time occupation all her life. It was after the revolutionary era that women began to serve in the military. Such women were disguised as men and it was in 1776 that the constitution of New Jersey allowed women to vote as their right (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
In this phase of the Women's Rights movement, it was the independent women who seemed to benefit. These enjoyed almost all the rights that were enjoyed by their male counterparts whereas the women who were still in marriage remained subjected to their husbands. The law was swift to protect those women who stood independently and though it was not formal, the women who were still married were denied a lot of freedom by their husbands. The women who became bold and had the confidence to face life with a lot of determination and confidence were protected by the system and were given opportunities to work even in the military. However, the not so confident opted for marriage and had no choice but to be subjected to men who dominated in such families (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
The second wave of the Women's Rights movement (From 1960s to 1980s)
In the twentieth century the Women's Rights movement underwent some notable changes that incorporated all groups of women that seemed to be left out during the first wave of the movement. In between the years of 1960s and 70s the second wave of the Movement for Women's Rights was witnessed in the US and this continued until the 1980s when it died off slowly. After the Second World War, such positive effects as suburban growth, economic boom, and consumerist accomplishment among other factors brought about the confidence in the nuclear family (Norton & Alexander, 2007). This facilitated the domination of the patriarch role. In this setting, the women were expected to remain subjugated to their husbands in the domestic setting. The media took up this matter and women were not ready to remain in a male dominated society and this was the reason why the Women's Right Movement came to be. The group targeted at the eradication of sex discrimination in all aspects of life such as the workplace, education sector, and in other public utilities (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
After going through the struggles that the women activists went through in pursuing the equal treatment of all sexes thus allowing the women to enjoy equal rights with men, it is evident that this was not a simple journey. This was a struggle that made some of the proponents of the women's rights to loose their lives but at the end these struggles bore fruits (Norton & Alexander, 2007).
The road that these women tread was full of challenges but at the end their struggles ensured that women gained certain rights that were only enjoyed by men in most of the cultures across the world. The Women's Rights movement that begun in those early days seemed to have left out some groups of women but this was incorporated in the second wave of this movement that came after the end of the second word war. At this time the society seemed to relapse to the male dominance and this was the reason why the second wave was put in place to fight for the women's rights right from the domestic level to the national level. Indeed this was a fight that was worth fighting and it is evident that the current women's status in the society did not come just without human intervention by women; it was hard earned and therefore should be upheld at all times (Norton & Alexander, 2007).