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American Women’s Equal Right

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Tingting Zhang

HIST 310

17 November 2017

Professor Dilly

American Women’s Equal Right

During 18th century, women were treated unequally in all areas of society in the United States. Also, in the same period, the problem of female slaves was still terrible. Those fettered women were tormented and discriminated by the supremacy males and traditional religions. According to the textbook of A History of The American People, one of the chapters of the book describes the poor situation of women during 1830s “Women occupied a paradoxical position in the 1830s. They could not vote and, if married, had no right to own property or to keep their own wages. Divorced women could not gain custody of their children; domestic violence went virtually unchallenged” (Paul). Women had been a mere appendage of men’s being, the instruments of men’s convenience and pleasure, the funny toys that men humored into playfulness.

In order to understand the history of women’s right more clearly, the early social roles of women were necessary to know. Traditionally, men had more responsibilities and were stronger than women. The reason is that early Roman law, Christian religious philosophy, Greek mythology, and Hinduism have all expressed women as malicious, loaded with misery, and perpetually sub-par. As the article of women in early Roman Law wrote bout “Women had no independent place. They took part in the ceremonies only through their fathers or husbands. Nor did they attain godship after their decease. In death, as in life, their identity was lost in that of their male relatives. And in this old religious supremacy of the man, rather than in his physical superiority.” In an unexpected way, the medieval times permitted ladies individual and scholarly flexibility yet not for long. The women in 17th century and 18th century lived day after day with fear being violently abused and humiliated by the religions and law.

During 17th century, the economic situation in America was very depressed, therefore, both men and women farmed. However, because of the religions and laws, women were in the low social standing in America regardless how much work they did. As Boyer describes the situation of gender in that society in the American history textbook, “Meanwhile, some Americans rethought questions of gender and race in American society during the 1790s. Even so, legal and political barriers to gender and racial equality actually became more entrenched” (Paul). As a result, many poor women were treated like merchandises by their parents to exchange food and money, dolls by their male friends for entertaining, and animals by their owners to sell for money. In addition, many women were forced to be prostitutes for their livings. The fate of women was quite pathetic in that period because most of them had been taught to be submissive to males since they were born. Also, women did not have the rights to get higher education, so the thoughts of most women were blind and ignorant. Women were suffered, but they had no tools and force to change their fates.

However, a few women could not bear being treated unfairly, and have stood up to fight for their equal rights until today. In the American colonies, the Revolutionary War of 1775 - 1783 fought was in the name of liberty and equality, which raised hopes for some women. Meanwhile, there was a majority of women supporting the war with their sewing and farming, and boycotting British goods. For instance, Esther Deberdt Reed, the wife of the governor of Pennsylvania. She led the women association and the mobilization of material support for American army. Although neither the American nor the French revolutions increased women’s rights, these conflicts gave new prominence to the idea of equality. In 1821, Emma Willard founded the Troy Female Seminary. Willard encouraged young women to get education and promoted education for women even though women did not allow to go to college at that time. Because knowledge could change women’s poor destiny, women had nothing but only their minds. Also, it was only due to the positive guidance and dedication brought about by those female heroes like Willard and Deberdt that the hope of salvation was revealed in the bottomless abyss of sin. In the 20th century, some major European and American universities accepted women for advanced study and professional training. Indeed, women are also human beings. As the Bible says that God creates men and women at the same time, which demonstrates all women and men are equal. As a result, women should be respected and cared and obtain the rights to do anything as men do.  

In 18th century, so many women were forced to work hard not only at home but also at labor places by their husbands, fathers and brothers. Women work hard at farms, printing offices, and other laborious. Even though women earned money to support their families, they were still treated like an outsider by their male families. However, in 1838, Sarah Grimké, a brave female advocate for defending women’s rights, released her letters on the condition of women and equity of sexes. Sarah wrote in her letters “That the laws which have been generally adopted in the United States, for the government of women, have been framed almost entirely for the exclusive benefit of men, and with a design to oppress women, by depriving them of all control over their property, is too manifest to be denied. Men frame the laws, and, with few exceptions, claim to execute them on both sexes. Although looked upon as an inferior, when considered as an intellectual being, woman is punished with the same severity as man, when she is guilty of moral offences.”  After that, the women’s right convention took place at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. The convention declared that all men and women are created equal. Also, the Seneca Falls Convention was the first women’s right convention and became the centerpiece of women’s right activity. The activity won a few rights for women’s inequity and passed a series of revolutions such as the rights of women to get education, their own property, and respect from males. Whereas, women still could not obtain the national right to vote until 1920 after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. Apparently, women realized that they must be treated equally and gained confidence to start fighting for their equal rights. In this world, males are nothing if there are no females because women give births to human. Women could not only remain at home to manage their families, households, farms and business on their own but also make money to support their families’ lives. Women desire the equal level of civil right protection as legal subjects of human rights.



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