Equality of man has been one of the most pursued activities throughout human history. Mankind has made several mistakes during this long quest for a prejudice-free society. However, for humans to continue evolving in the making of ourselvesthemselves we must look back at these mistakes and learn from them. Women’s suffrage is an applicable topic when discussing this. If we look back upon the injustices that women faced, then perhaps we can look ahead and spare ourselves from serving injustices like these to anyone again.
Society has always placed a second-class rank upon women. However, this issue is not nearly as severe as it always has been. During the late 19th century and the early portion of the 20th century, women were placed in an inferior position to men. Certain restrictions would not allow women to participate fully in societal roles. Restrictions such as women’s right to vote, their right in the workplace, and their right in politics were just a few examples that show the inequalities women faced during that time.
Society’s view of women during the early 1900s was one of inferiority. Women’s role in society was seen as less important than that of a man’s. Society felt like women were not capable of making as good of a decision as men were. Proof of injustices such as women’s denial of their right to vote shows this to be true. There was not much difference between the viewpoints of those internationally. All around the world, women were not equal to men.
It was not anything new either. This perception of women has long existed. Not only was this way of thinking prevalent in places far away, but even in places closer to home, in America. The progression of women’s liberation was more speedily in America than that in other countries, though. Not only were women placed second when it came to politics, but as a whole, they had to suffer being inferior. Their position at home was to be the epitome of a housewife, to be “pregnant and barefoot” as it were. Men were considered to be the main breadwinners.
In an overlook of the progression of women being given their rights, we can see that it has been a long struggle. The battle for the establishment of women as equal in the eyes of society has been an ongoing one for more than a century now and it continues to be fought. In looking at specific examples, notice how women’s liberation has been a slow progression.
In 1890, the National Women’s Association and the American Women’s Suffrage organization merged to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, or the NAWSA, becoming the liberation movement’s mainstream organization. In 1903, the Women’s Trade Unions League was formed helping to bring to the public’s attention the concerns of women workers. There was a significant change of events that occurred in favor of the women’s movement. In the Muller vs. The State Oregon case held in 1908 at the United States Supreme Court, the Court declared unconstitutional protective legislation for women workers. By 1910, the number of women attending college rose 150 percent since the turn of the 20th century. On May 10, 1913, the largest suffrage parade held to date took place in New York City. With the addition of around 500 men, the parade marched down Fifth Avenue in support of the liberation movement. It was not until the First World War that society noticed a huge increase of women in the workforce. Traditional jobs of men were now being forced to become jobs for women. In 1917, there were more women working jobs in heavy industries such as mining, chemical manufacturing, and automobile and railway plants.
Finally, in 1917, Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first-ever woman elected to the United States Congress. By the time the halfway point of the 20th century rolled along, 30 percent of all women were active in the paid labor force. By examining the above examples of women being established their rights, we can see that it was only by the force of their collective formed associations that women were winning the battle for equality. Was the women’s liberation movement always on the progressive side? Hardly. Overall, the rights and status of women have improved considerably in the last century; however, gender equality has recently been threatened the last decade. While it is true that blatant sexist laws and practices are slowly being eliminated, social perceptions of women’s roles continue to stagnate and even regress to traditional ideals. It is these social perceptions that challenge the evolution of women as equal on all levels.
In today’s society, women are placed on a different pedestal. No longer are they in second place, but they now play an important role in the progression of humanity; however, women are still being faced with trying situations. Many factors contribute to the problems that women still face in their quest for equality. One of the main factors is maternity. Offspring may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm can play a key role here. Mental and physical health may result from the stresses of child care. In today’s age, there are also the distresses associated with unwanted children as well as single-parent mothers.
One of the biggest factors I found in the study of this topic is that society still encourages the inequality of women. For example, the issue of abortion has been a problem since the beginning of this country but was not discussed openly until the recent Roe vs. Wade trial. The reason why it was never discussed is that this issue was not socially acceptable. A culture that does not openly discuss issues that have such a profound effect on women is a culture that encourages women to be voiceless, and a voiceless person is powerless. About the abortion issue, women saw the pendulum of women’s liberation swing against the women’s rights movement. Violent acts against women who sought abortions became common in the 1980s, and the government was unsympathetic towards the victims. You can parallel the African-American civil rights movement to that of the women’s rights movement. African-Americans have long been accustomed to the government being unsympathetic towards them. During this civil rights movement, legal action seemed to take place only when white civil rights activists were killed. Women are facing similar disregard by the government, and their movement truly is one for civil rights.
A national campaign held by the National Organization of Women began on March 2, Here, the organization demanded that the United States Justice Department investigate anti-abortion terrorism. On August 1, authorities finally agreed to begin monitoring the violence. However, Federal Bureau Investigation director William Webster declared that he saw no evidence of terrorism. Only on January 3, 1985, did the President refer to the series of bombings that had been occurring at anti-abortion rallies as “violent acts”. He never referred to them as terrorism, and the persons directly involved with the bombings were let off of their terrorism charges. It is disturbing to see that the slow gains achieved by the women’s movement are so volatile and endangered whenever conservative administrations gain a majority in government. To put this problem into perspective, a woman’s right to have an abortion did not come until 1973. Less than three decades later, the President of the United States is pushing to take away that right. It seems obvious that society is still bentonn putting women in their places.
From the above examples, it appears that American culture prefers womenonprofessionalional, non-intellectual homemakers. This mentality is not easily resolved because it is instilled at such a young age. Alice Brooks experienced inequality based on her sex. In her auto biautobiographyam Deferred, she recalls the reaction of her father when she brought up the idea of college to him. She wrote, “I found a scholarship for veteran’s children and asked my father to sign and furnish proof that he was a veteran. He refused and told me that I was only going to get married and have babies. I needed to stay home and help my mother with her kids. My brother needed to go to college to support a family. Not only was I not going to get any help, but I was also tagged as selfish because I wanted to go to college.” This is a prime example of women being labeled as selfish for wanting the same opportunities as men. This attitude of women being placed inferior to men is being amplified further in recent reactions to affirmative action plans. These plans were devised for a good reason. They were going to allow women and minorities an opportunity to participate in the traditionally whmale-dominatedated area. However, we can see that the program is not successful because of its lack of implementation. In the case Johnson vs.
Transportation Agency, Santa Clara, statistics were released that proved women were not being given equal rights. Some of those statistics were that 9 out of 10 Para-Professionals and 110 out of 145 Office and Clerical Workers were women. The statistics are good; however, in contrast, women were only 2 of the 28 Officials and Administrators, 5 out of 58 were professionals, 12 out of 124 were technicians and there were no Skilled Crafts Workers that were women. These numbers prove that women are not being allowed to hold traditional white male positions. These sorts of ratios are not uncommon and are found throughout the business world.
Often, such violence and unfair acts against a group of people will cause that group to pull together and empower themselves against their oppressors. The women’s movement has made large steps to eliminate these sexist acts within the last century. Times have improved for women’s rights. Women play a much bigger and more important role in society.
As we have seen, though, there is much room for improvement. The female child has as many goals as the male child, but statistically, she is unable to even realize these goals because of the obstacles that society sets before her. Society attempts to draw up this illusion that women enjoy just as many rights as men do. However, women will never be equal until the day that females will be accepted to participate in society just as males would.
By looking at the injustices that were placed upon women, we can see that mankind is still prone to making prejudices out of anything. Not only have we as humans places restrictions upon ones based on gender, but we have also served many others, specifically minorities, with the same discomfort as was given to women. How can we learn from these horrid mistakes and then, in turn, apply what we have learned and prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes? We must first learn to look at where society is at in terms of women being treated more fairly. The world benefits from the supplement of women in the workforce. For example, in the medical field, some of the best professional doctors, surgeons, specialists, and nurses are women. They have helped to add to the care that patients need to continue living. Women in politics also help to show that women provide the needed balance that society needs to continue improving; however, there’s yet to be a woman who’s held the highest elected position in this country’s President.