Women have sought out equality and its benefits for the longest of time. Their desire to own themselves and control the world’s perspective of women has been motivation throughout decades. Looking back as far as 1865, Women have always worked hard to care for the family even while they stood behind the man. Women used their skills to manage the home by bringing income in through making and selling clothing. There was a time when it was unacceptable for a woman’s shoulders to be bare in public, and unheard of to be seen with their belly visible.
Sex without marriage was obscene as was the option of having sex with preventive methods. And they eventually won the battle of who can and cannot vote. Women struggled against men for and objective females for the right to enlist in the military. Abortion was brought to existence to protect women from birthing unwillingly. The world experienced several acts and rights to ensure women gained equality. Women tackled the world for women related changes drastically since 1865 and do not plan to back down.
This paper defines that women have fought for equality in employment, fashion, voting, military choice, and even birth options; they achieved such rights through feminist acts like the women’s liberation movement and they will forever expect rightful equality. “Women worked hard to create income for their family, such as making clothes from scratch, turning fresh raw game into meals, cleaning homes and baking” (Bowles, M. 2011). Women did just about everything that a man did on top of their own work; they had to be prepared for the unexpected.
Women would have to do other things like, tending to the farm animals, and handling the crops. Where democratic freedom is concerned, women fell short along with African Americans for the longest of time. 1842-1932, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, an orator of the American Civil War period spoke out on women’s rights. She gave her first serious speech in 1860, before the Civil War began, addressing the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. In 1861, she spoke on the ‘Rights and Wrongs of Women’. She spoke for organizations that focused on adult education programs (Woloch, N. (2013). Education could free women.
Women searched for equality in the work place; for real payroll opportunities that were only granted to males. “There were far less than few professions offered to women if they sought a career for themselves. Other than a teacher, a nurse, or a social worker, women were not given the chance at other forms of employment” (Bowles, M. 2011). Females were given a short break when war began, and were allowed secretary, cook and nurse positions. The women’s rights movement was kicked off in year 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an American leader in the women’s right movement put together the Declaration of Rights for women.
The declaration gained 68 women signatures as well as 32 men signatures. Not only was this declaration of rights after the end of women’s struggle for work equality, but also for educational strengthening, and desired voting rights. “Stanton, and another strong willed women like Susan B. Anthony, fought through the late 19th century to be victorious, unfortunately as their passing came in 1902 and 1906 they still were not welcome to vote” (Bowles, M. 2011). Women accessed small freedoms along their journey to the great equality. Women strived for dramatic change in their lives.
While rights of voting, necessary education and military options were in the works women started making changes that did not require the governments time. Women spiced up their attire. The 19th-century dress reform was a social protest. Dress reformers set their bodies free from the physical and ideological constraints of society’s acceptance of fashion. The reform became a stand for equality. The reform short dress embodied the movement’s ideas by redefining femininity and influence for women. “In the 19th century America industrialization revolutionized life, pushing cultural, social, political, and even educational change.
Opportunities for women extended and contracted simultaneously. Such tremendous social upheaval in such a short time, fifty years created significant tension in the United States” (Torrens, K. M. 1999). Women were on fire. Women cut their hair, began sporting the bob, and experimented with makeup. With the exception of actresses very few women wore lip stick or even powder on their face. To see women decorating their faces for reasons other than entertainment was absurd, yet alluring and exciting. Women were making their mark in America. “Short skirts, unbuckled boots, and heavy makeup made up the ‘flapper’.
Daring teenage girls explored this look and older generations were stunned by the outrageous fashions and attitudes” (Bliven, B. 1925, Sept. 9). “Women’s skirt lengths crept up through the years; presently we are not awe struck to see a skirt not worthy of being called a skirt, but in 1915 most considered a skirt that ended below the knee to be simply scandalous” (Bowles, M. 2011). In the 1920’s flappers were considered a new breed of young Western women who wore the above mentioned short skirts, bobbed hairstyles, and they also listened to jazz. They would flaunt their rebellious ways in society.
Flappers wore excessive makeup, drank, smoked and they were guilty of treating sex more casually than the bond between married people. Not all women were as bold and could reveal as much skin as the flapper girls. “Many tried to gracefully mix the old with the new in order to protect themselves as well as fit in with the new” (Torrens, K. M. 1999). Women took control of appearance. It took years for women of generations, races, cultures etc… to accept the option to dress how they wish, and even presently there are still cultures that resist the urge to break free and dominate their attire, but for American women fashion is freedom.
Fashion is a historical point made that women will be equal, women will stand as tall as men and be seen, heard and respected as man, not just thought of as “from the rib, which God has taken from man, made him a woman, and gave her to the man” (Robert A. Couric, 2003). I, as a woman, vote yes to that. Voting has been a desire of women for quite a stretch of time. Act after failed act women fought passionately for equality in voting. What sense does it make that a male can choose who runs his country and a female cannot have a say?
When the Declaration of Independence was done in 1776, it stated that all men were created equal, but said nothing of women’s rights. “Several women’s rights leaders found this to be unacceptable and, along with other proud women, Stanton created the term ‘Womanisfesto,’ which was modeled after the Declaration of Independence” (Roberts, 2005). Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and approved on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment promised all American women the right to vote. Victory took decades to achieve. Marches, speeches, letters of defiance, and civil disobedience all lead to the radical change of the Constitution.
Before that in 1869 the National Woman Suffrage Association was begun, with the goal of securing an amendment to the Federal Constitution for woman suffrage (Woman suffrage). After years with much fight, failure and motivation to enforce women’s rights to vote, the 19th amendment was finally accomplished. The Presidential election of November, 1920, was the first official opportunity for all American women to utilize their right to vote (Woman suffrage). War caused huge vacancies, resulting in great opportunity for women because they were discriminated against in job choice.
There was a high demand for assistance in the field, therefore the government called women in to volunteer for service, and why not take that shot at future security. Unfortunately they were not given military privileges or benefits. Women were granted the chance to also serve the military in secretarial jobs and some women drove trucks. Women gained employment during the war, but unfortunately lost them once men returned from Europe. “The participation of women in the war was serious, not only for the nation, but for their own cause” (Bowles, M. 2011).
Women started off serving in the military as contracted or volunteered nurses, cooks and they even disguised themselves as soldiers. During the American Revolution Deborah Samson joined in the Continental Army as Robert Shurtliff, she served as a soldier for almost one whole year, but that opportunity for females was stripped from them when the armed forces decided they were going to ensure that only the healthiest men were in the service, so they started thorough physical examinations (history and collections).
The 1960s and 1970s saw an important legislation enacted to address sex discrimination in employment and education. Phyllis Schlafly, a woman opposing the equal rights amendment accused that the amendment would create a “unisex society” while weakening the family, harming the vision of the homemaker, legalizing homosexuality, and exposing girls to the military draft” (Steinem, G. 1970). Well, women on board with the equal rights amendment were all for it, and would not stop aiming for success even if some of the shared sex were against it. In 1948 Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act allowing women status in the military, as well as veteran’s benefits.
During the late 1940’s females were allowed permanency as members of the armed forces. They were given all the power men have in military; presently in 2013, the United States Armed Forces flipped a 1994 rule that bans women from serving in certain combat positions, totally cleared the way for women to hold positions in front line units and powerful commando teams. Rights of work choice were on the rise for women. Women were frustrated with their place in society and their progress in their fight to obtain employment and achieve equal rights.
In 1960 the amount of women workers doubled in 1940, and just about 40 percent of all females over the age sixteen had employment. The female employee rate increased four times quicker than the rate of men. Wives at work doubled in percentage in between 1940 and 1960” (Purnell, S. E. 1976). The Women’s Liberation Movement was a feminist political movement which developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Year 1961 oral contraceptives or birth control was accessible for women and it was the first step of the women’s liberation movement.
In 1961, President Kennedy’s commission to examine the issues involving women discovered that discriminatory actions were indeed being taken against women. In 1963, the Equal Rights Act was in place. It ensured that discrimination between sexes concerning the wages in the work establishment was against the law. In 1964 President Johnson finalized the Civil Rights Act. Signed papers did not mean that realistically women were treated fairly, so a group of women known as NOW, or National Organization for Women took action to bring women’s participation in society up to par, as equal partners to men.
The liberation movement made huge steps for women to ensure equality and opened doors for other possibilities for women. The choice to birth a child or not became a concern for women. Several anti-abortion laws had been around since at least 1900. Abortion was prohibited in 30 states and legal only under certain scenarios that could include rape-pregnancies, or incest in the other 20 states. 1925 Margaret Sanger presented the world with her speech, The Children’s Era; the speech addressed the results of overpopulation and a lack of birth control options.
Her words: “Before you can cultivate a garden, you must know something about gardening. You have got to give your seeds a proper soil in which to grow… ” (Margaret Sanger, 1925). There is a difference in relation to giving birth unwilling and doing so unprepared. Just about two years after this successful speech, Ms. Sanger spoke at the first World Population Conference in Geneva. Understanding that women would be blamed for their conditions and the repeated pregnancies they faced, Sanger reached out to her audiences in hopes they would help fund her birth control ideas and laws.
She used the stories of children to bond her listeners and force support for the services for mothers. She also goes in to great detail about diseases, and a couple other issues concerning life without birth control. It is no secret that there are situations where girls are drugged or raped and result in unwanted or unsafe pregnancies. Where are their escapes? In 1973 the Supreme Court made the decision Roe v. Wade. It invalidated all of the above mentioned laws, and reset guidelines for the abortion. That granted women the right to abort life if they believed it necessary.
I, as a young woman and mother, do not shout for joy in this particular right, but I can certainly appreciate the option if ever the horrifying requirement presented itself. Birth control has also become a growing industry that allows women so many different methods of contraception. It is a great thing too, because the open options allow less unaccepted abortions. Women have succeeded in much more than the allowance to choose birth; they have birthed great opportunities for future women. Decades of females fighting for the chance at equality, none of it went in vain for women have gracefully achieved the long awaited desires.
Employment is now option and right to women. Women are no longer viewed as the weaker sex and entitled only to house wife, farm girl, or clothing makers. Women dramatically transformed their appearance, giving life to their look. They can realistically and openly express themselves; they have opened a world of opportunity for present and future generations. Military branched out and welcomed women with open arms after quite the fuss, but women are proud Americans as well and have done their fair share in bringing wars to end.
The ballot boxes are no longer limited to the male species only, women successfully conquered that battle and have continued to show up to every voting occasion. Women even won the war of being able to choose whether or not to have child. Life is not fair, but women have gained rights to fairness in all that they do in society. There still may be corners of the world with different perspectives on how women rank in society, but watch out for the modern day Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, because there will always be strong women ready to right the wrongs of inequality.