His 204 American History Since 1865
Professor Aubrey Underwood
November 4, 2013
Being a woman of myself, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the historical events and developments that presented new opportunities for women (or lack of) to grow and develop into different roles of equality in society which would present them with a better quality of life.
While women once had few life options beyond isolation in the domestic sphere, what historical developments presented new opportunities for women in society? In my opinion, I think that the two wars, World War I and World War II did a lot to help women step out into other roles in society.
Prior to the twentieth century, women had very few opportunities. Primarily, the most a woman could look forward to in life was fulfilling domestic roles. Those roles were primarily, marriage, being a housewife, and rearing children. Although taking care of a home and tending to her children and spouse would seem to be a fulfilling life for a woman, there were some women with interests and skills that could not utilize them due to the conformity that she had thrust upon her by society (Bowels, 2011). Even though women did have a say in some areas of her life and household, she did not have any authority in society. A woman’s body was not even considered her own when she was married, but her husband’s. Back then, women lived in a male dominated world. First her father and then her husband had sole authority and domination over her (Smith, 2002). Even any assets that a woman would bring into the house did not belong to her, but to her husband. These would include any income or inheritance she would receive. All of which would become the property of her husband. Being a woman of the 21st century, I cannot imagine being the sole property, so to speak, of my husband or another person. It resembles the life of someone who is enslaved.
Over the course of the history of woman’s suffrage, in general women had less career opportunities than the men. Parenthood and being the good wife were considered as women’s most important jobs. Although birth rates fell in the nineteenth century, motherhood became a full time occupation for women, rather than one task amongst many for both parents. I can identify with being a mother fulltime. Prior to having children, I worked outside the home. After giving birth to my second child, I stayed home for six years. Women remained largely outside political life, but enjoyed access to education. I was also able to pursue my education as a fulltime Mom> I was able to obtain my AAS in Accounting. So, being a fulltime mother does have its advantages, in addition to being there to see your children grow. Plus they developed their own institutions for a distinctive female discourse. Over the course of the century, many women used the private sphere to which they had been