Views on the nature of women and their place in society changed rapidly from in the 1500s as unneeded and insignificant to in the 1900s where women are considered as real citizens with rights and value in society. In the 1500s women had minimal, if no rights at all, and were treated as lesser than the male population, reserved to work in the homes and to be seen and not heard. Between the 1500s and the 1900s there was a period of development for women where they had begun to be more recognizable in society with the salons and other enlightenment ideas. Finally, in the 1900s women were almost treated as full members of society, with the right to vote in Europe and with all the new developments in America.
In the end of the 1400s and the beginnings of the 1500s many women began to question their lower place in society as invalid. Laura Cereta wote, “[Women] restrain from the start their youthful souls, reflect on higher things, harden the body with sobriety and trails and curb their tongues, open their ears, compose their thoughts in wakeful hours.” Cereta acknowledges the fact women are doing their jobs as silent objects in society, but, she is also saying that they are not happy doing this, it is the start of women becoming “fed-up” with a lower place in society (doc. 2). A different side of women’s thoughts during this time is expressed though Christine de Pizan when she writes that women are not to be, “forward, frolicsome, boisterous in speech or expression, or bearing laughter (doc 1). Pizan conflicts with Cereta views because she is outlining the rules for women in society in the 1430s. It is viable to predict that women will soon in the 1500s and beyond reference this document as Ludacris and wrong. St. Teresa of Avila wrote to men directly, making many statements on the value women have in society. Avila begins her argument, “women have more power over men because they are good” (doc.3). Overall, in these early years women are either accepting their position in society or they are starting to question what they are valued as; women in this time period are unable to express their opinions openly like in the enlightenment because society is not yet accepting of these new ideas.
Now for the enlightenment years between 1600s and 1800s, there is a dramatic increase in the voice of women. Though her writings, Louise Labe’ speaks on how the enlightenment is the time now for women to act, “the severe laws of men no longer prevent women from applying themselves to the sciences and other differences,” she is empowered by the idea of a new future for women and she calls out men as, “greatly depriving [them] of honor and advantages” (doc. 4). Women are viewing themselves as something more than housewives. Next, jobs are brought up by, Mary Cary to address how women are not allowed to have certain professions. She speaks to the men of the Church (the biggest institution of the 1600s) about how women should be allowed to work with the church as priests etc. “not all women are godly women, but many of them have received the Spirit,” by using religion in the picture it reminds men and women that they are equal in God’s eyes (doc. 5). Being employed was a huge step for women’s rights and Cary is one of the first to speak on it, proving that women are now viewing themselves as valued and they are ready to assist society on a larger scale. Lastly the picture of Madame du Chatelet finalizes the position of women in enlightenment society (doc. 7). They are now view themselves as philophes as important members that benefit the circulation of new ideas. Chatelet translated newton’s principia into French and that opened the door for women to feel empowered and for men to see how much they can bring to the table.
As time got closer to the 1900s so did women were also closer to recognition is society. Activist women like Mary Wollstonecraft write that women are to be treated like, “rational…