History of War and Conflict 317 Primary Source Analysis
Professor David Nelson
A century ago women were not as well educated as they are today, women were looked upon as dainty and fragile creatures that did not know much better than the children they bore and cared for. During that time women were seen as caretakers of the family; uneducated, physically weak, and over run by their uncontrolled emotions, men feared that by association, they too would appear to be just as vulnerable and in the case of international relations unstable and weak to the opposing side. This fear was the reason that women were not able to attain suffrage before the 19th century because of the male species massive ego and constant desire to control women their voices where drowned out by a mans arrogance. Of course today the issue has subsided and women are not nearly on as unequal levels as they had been before yet the issue has not gone away nor will it really ever disappear. Today women have the right to own property in her name, a claim to the children she bares, the right to a government funded education, and a voice in elections this of course was not always the case. In this century women are encouraged to reach the highest level of self-fulfillment attainable but in the 19th century, from birth females were taught to be submissive and towards their male counterparts. John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher and a member of Parliament who wrote for the extension of suffrage towards women claiming that to with hold such a liberty was a violation of individual rights.
“All women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men; not self will, and government by self-control, but submission and yielding to the control of others. All the moralities tell them that it is the duty of women, and all the current sentimentalities that it is their nature, to live for others; to make complete abnegation of themselves, and to have no life but their affections. And by their affections are meant the only ones they are allowed to have- those to the men with whom they are connected, or to the children who constitute an additional and indefeasible tie between them and man.”1 From the beginning of time women where taught to be subordinate to men, their rightful place was next to a man caring for the children and cleaning the house not fighting for their voice in parliament or a seat in the senate. Up until the 19th century women were forced to take a back seat their voices unheard simply due to the pretense men had of women. Amidst the revolution and industrial growth that surrounded women during this time their own development was hard fought and barely any advances where earned. The low opinion men held of women during this enlightening time of history is quite disturbing in complete honesty; while the world became industrialized and nations gained territories outside of their boarders to cultivate more raw materials and then there was the development of male suffrage, women stood on the side lines wondering when their turn for equality would finally arise. The Goncourt brothers may have shed some light in to the minds of men during this revolutionary time.
“Men like ourselves need a women of little breeding and education who is nothing but gaiety and natural wit, because a women od that sort can charm and please us like an agreeable animal to which we may become attached. But if a mistress has acquired a veneer of breeding art, or literature, and tries to talk to us on an equal footing about our thoughts and our feeling for beauty; if she wants to be a companion and partner in the cultivation of our tastes or the writing of our books, then she becomes for us as unbearable as a piano out of tune- and very soon an object of dislike.”2
In the eyes of men…