The role of women in society and other spheres of life is considered to be one of the most frequently discussed questions during a long period of time. American history is full of numerous events, which had a considerable impact on future development.
If the status of women during the Middle Ages, the end of 19th century, and nowadays is compared, the results may become rather impressive for everyone: women went out of male shadow and prove their readiness to become a significant and, what is more, independent part of this world. The status of women in society has been considerably changed and, now, women take leading positions in different spheres: women in education choose proper approaches to study children and help them develop their skills; women in politics amaze everyone with their abilities to control men and society and improve living conditions; and, at the same time, women still play the roles of wives, mother, and hearth keepers. One of the greatest achievements, which are connected with the role of women in society, is women’s suffrage that allows women to vote and play a significant role in making decisions, which improve and develop living conditions.
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General Roles of Women in Society
One of the most frequent characteristics concerning the matter of women’s role in society is their devotion to families, their husbands, and children. During quite a long period of time women argued that motherhood was considered to be the major obstacle for their liberation and independence from men (Hooks 2000). Women have to clean, cook, care for their children, and be devoted wives.
Due to such deep devotion to family hearth, women deprived themselves from the opportunities to get good jobs, earn money, get proper education, participate in political sphere, and take many other activities. Women of colors and immigrants constantly faced much more problems in different spheres (Lindenmeyer 2000), because they were considered to be not native and had so few chances to develop skills and become significant parts of the nation. The role of women in families and society is usually discussed in many literary works and media. Such literary works as The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women prove that women did not have a place in politics or economics, they did not have the right to vote and offer own ideas, and their role as family hearth holders was clearly determined (Fisher and Silber 2003).
Women in Politics and Women’s Suffrage
In America, the development of feministic waves played a very important role for women’s suffrage. The brightest waves of feminism were dated for the first time during the period of the Civil War. “Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony, learned to organize, hold public meetings, and conduct petition campaigns as abolitionists” (Dye and Zeigler 2008).
These women proved that they could do much more than wait for their husbands at home, cry, look after children, and hope that everything could be changed within a short period of time. The middle of the 18th century was marked as the times, when women start appearing on the political scene. The list of great women in politics in American history is not too large till the middle of the 18th century. In 1770s, Penelope Barker proclaimed that conflicts between English colonies became more and more serious, and women had to be involved in any disputes, which may solve those problems (Zeinert 2002). Women tried to fight for getting the right to vote during a long period of time. Numerous progressive movements, caused by women’s desire to vote and make decisions brought certain changes in political and social spheres.
Even “in 1900 American women could not vote, serve on juries, run for elective office” (Anderson 2002). However, at the beginning of the 1990s, women got the right to participate in votes; from that period of time the idea of women’s suffrage became famous and significant for many nations. The above-mentioned Mott and Stanton were the first ones, who started that struggle for voting (Macbain-Stephens, 2006). These women promoted the creations of laws, which allowed women controlling own earnings and property, getting equal care about children after divorces, and taking the same positions as men in many spheres of life. The first attempt of women to vote that happened in 1872 was not successful at all: Susan B.
Anthony was arrested and had to pay $100 for disobedience. Her arrest did not stop her and even encouraged the intentions to fight for the right to vote and have the same honors as all men had. In 1875, Susan B. Anthony presented one of her most popular speeches Social Purity, where she told about social problems and their impact on women’s roles in society. She emphasized that women had to have the right to vote and get the opportunity to share their voices and make decisions (Adams, 2003). In 1876, a Declaration of Rights for Women was created by Anthony and Stanton. However, they were deprived from the opportunity to read it aloud, this is why they had nothing to do but made numerous copies and handed them to the crowd. It was one more step to success of women’s suffrage and respect.
April 6, 1891 was the date, when first 15 women got the right to vote and were tabulated. Of course, political roles could not be called serious, because men were still afraid to trust political problems to women hands, but still, some changes had been done, and women were satisfied with their women’s suffrage. The United States were the 27th country that allowed women’s suffrage in 1919: the Amendment of Susan B. Anthony was passed. Illinois was the first state, and on August 26, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the Constitution concerning the women’s right to vote took effect. Politics was not the sphere for men only from that time. Women were eager to prove that their participation in political life of the country.
The name of Jeanette Rankin is connected to a kind of revolution that happened in the sphere in American politics: women could become members of the United States House of Representatives. This woman voted against participation in the World Wars; even more, as a member of Congress in the United States, she was the only one, who did not support the participation of the United States of America in the World War II. Her appearance on the political sphere was really a significant step in the history of America and women’s role in society in particular. With time, first ladies and wives of governors became very important figures, and their actions were frequently discussed by the world.
So, the end of the 20th century was a crucial point in American history and women role and status in politics.
Women’s Achievements in Society
With time, American women try to demonstrate their intentions to be equal to men in everything: even space, the male place, is conquered by women (Romito 2008). Military practice is inherent not only to men. In the 1970s, women made one more progress and became a significant part of the military services in equal parts with men (Halloran 2007). They did not want to demonstrate their power or abilities; they just wanted to get a chance to develop their skills in different spheres, like all men did. All these women’s activities and the desire to fight for own right played an important role in developing women and men equality.
The role of women in society is great indeed and changes almost each year.
With time, women want to show that their abilities are really great, and they can cope with any situation, at any level. Too much attention is paid to the place of women in history, and American women prove by their actions and contributions have certain worth and should be considered by everyone. Women become more independent, they get more opportunities to develop their skills and enlarge their knowledge. It is not surprisingly to meet a sophisticated female politician and be impressed by her ability to solve conflicts and quarrels. Women’s suffrage is considered to be one of the most significant steps in the American history.
Women proved that they had the same opportunities to participate and influence all spheres of life, and political sphere in particular. The 19th Amendment provided women with a chance to vote and considerably changed women’s status in the history. However, it is not the end of women power, and much more improvements are waiting for society in future from women’s side.
Adams, Colleen. Women’s Suffrage: A Primary Source History of the Women’s Rights Movement in America. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003.
Anderson, Margo. Women in 1900: Gateway to the Political economy of the Twentieth Century. Journal of Social History 36, no. 2 (2003), 506. Dye, Thomas, R. and Zeigler, Harmon. The Irony of Democracy: An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics.
Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2008. Fisher, Jerilyn, Silber, Ellen, S. Women in Literature: Reading through the Lens of Gender. London: Greenwood Press, 2003. Halloran, Richard. Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know about Women in the Military.
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Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. Macbain-Stephens, Jennifer. Women’s Suffrage: Giving the Right to Vote to All Americans.
New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc, 2006. Romito, Joseph. Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America’s First Women in Space Program. Air Power History, 55, no. 2 (2008), 53.
Zeinert, Karen. Women in Politics: In the Running. Connecticut: Twenty-First Century Books, 2002.