The nineteenth century was an era where the impact of the industrial revolution was felt in many countries and sectors. The gender roles and rights were also influenced as the men received an upper hand in all aspects of life. On the other hand, women were only considered as subordinates, and they worked under their husbands, fathers, and brothers. The sisters, daughters, and wives were left at home to manage their domestic duties and to submit to the male gender. The oppression of women gave rise to some discussions that motivated activists to fight for the roles and rights of women. There were questions about the place of women in politics and in society as they began to contest the limitations that had been placed on their status in family and marriage, on property rights, and on their education. This paper compares and contrasts several views on the roles and rights of women during the nineteenth century.
The industrial revolution was focused on establishing factories that would produce cotton textiles using spinning and weaving machinery that was powered by water (Lowell, p.165). Modern textile factories were built in the cities, and there was a significant number of employees who worked in the spinning of thread to the weaving and finishing of cloth. According to Lowell (1845, p.165), young women who were not married were allowed to work on the spinning machines. However, the working conditions in these mills were deteriorating especially with the increased competition between factories. Lowell (1845, p.166) argues that a substantial number of the females were destined to a state of servitude where they were expected to work in areas such as America continuously. The workers began to protest against these conditions and women who had dominated the workforce were forced to participate. Elizabeth (1824, p.172) contributes to the view on the role of women as those who were forced to take care of their children and were involved very little in other activities as they were always fatigued with walking and carrying their infants. When a woman tried to help her husband build a stone chimney, people perceived this as going out of the legitimate sphere. Some females fought for the rights of the woman such as Sarah and Angelina Grimke who had stepped out of the domestic and social area (Beecher, p.240). It was considered wrong as women were expected to be submissive to the men who had been designated by the heavens as superior while women were their subordinate.
Women were never expected to unite themselves and form movements to fight for rights and freedoms. According to Beecher (1837, p.242), it was considered unwise and inappropriate for ladies to come together to champion for the rights of slaves and relief of oppressed women. Females who made efforts to open the social sphere were considered to injure and oppress their sex. Women were expected not to directly express their opinions but hold them quietly and affirm them calmly. Northup (1853, p.223) states that when a slave woman tried to cry to express her grief the master would turn to her and with a whip uplifted order her to stop crying. The woman would be taken to the yard where she would receive a hundred lashes. However, they played a role in fighting against slavery that they considered to be a sin and felt that it must be forsaken and they promoted the speedy release of all the slaves in the country (Beecher, p.241).
The men overloaded the rights of the woman, and some formed the abolitionist movement that ensured that women are given a spot in the society. The women began to issue petitions to the Congress, and they got a chance to attend the antislavery meetings. Beecher (1837, p.240) lists two women Sarah Grimke and Angelina who were daughters of a slave-owner, but they shifted into abolitionists and started to deliver lecturers that condemned slavery. They gave lecturers in public to a mixed audience which was not common in the previous decades. The lectures became popular especially among those who had witnessed the evils of slavery. The women in this period received a right to express themselves as in 1936 Angelina was able to write a book that urged the Christian women to take a stand against slavery (Beecher, p.240). They took part in public debates concerning political questions, but this received considerable criticism.
Beecher (1837, p.243) writes that Christian females had a role to bring the evils that were experienced in the U.S during this period to an end. They are expected to open their mouths and lift the fingers to end slavery and oppression towards women. It was the duty of every female to abandon biased approaches in matters that presented a clashing interest and become the mediator in these issues. The women were expected to advocate for peace (Beecher, p.244). In addition, they had a role to respect the social order and to hold the subordinate position in society to the other sex. They were perceived as peaceful and loving people who loved, esteemed, and respected themselves so much. Beecher (1837, p.242) comments that women held a place in the society where they were viewed as defenseless and dependent, and they made no claims since they maintained no right. They only sought help among her sex who assisted in domestic and maternal duties, charity, or piety (Beecher, p.242).
According to Stanton (1848, p.249), women were not free as men, and they were denied the right to vote. Those against the oppression of women were fighting to have this power given to them as they lived in a democratic society. There was the formation of a movement for the rights of women, and equal rights became the rallying cry as they claimed to have access to all the standard definitions of American freedom (Stanton, p.249). The movement believed that all women and men were created equal and that their creator gifted them with undisputable rights such as liberty, life, and the quest for happiness. The government oppressed the women, and they patiently suffered, but in the nineteenth century, they demanded an equal opportunity to which they are entitled.
Stanton (1848, p.250) states that throughout history, women received repeated injuries and usurpations from men who established a total tyranny over them. The men never allowed women to exercise their right to elect their leaders. The women were forced to submit to the laws which were founded through a formation she had no voice. Furthermore, all the rights of the women had been withheld and were given to both foreigners and native men who were considered as the most ignorant and degraded. They had no single representation in the halls of legislation an indication of how oppressed they were from all sides. They could not possess any property as their rights had been taken away by the laws that only recognized them when their property was considered to be profitable. The men had owned employment positions that were deemed to be beneficial and women only allowed to follow the ones that offered small payments (Stanton, p.251). They were also denied opportunities to access educational institutions. In addition, men were perceived to be at a higher level regarding education that the other sex and Beecher (1837, p.243) states that men were the educators in high school, colleges, and some of the most lucrative and honorable schools. On the other hand, women were only allowed to educate the little children of the country.
Women who were engaged in marriage were civilly dead as they were compelled to promise obedience to their husbands who were considered to be their masters. The men were given by the law the power to deprive women their liberty and also administer punishment whenever she was irresponsible. The women had no control to dictate marriage issues such as divorce and custody of children since the men had framed the laws regardless of the happiness of the women (Stanton, p.250). All the powers were given into the hands of the man based on a false supposition of their supremacy (Stanton, p.250).
In the nineteenth century, women were oppressed entirely by the men who had succeeded in every way possible to destroy the confidence of women and reduce her self-respect. The woman was not allowed to hold any position as she was a subordinate in every sphere of life. However, the women felt oppressed, aggrieved, and deprived of their rights and movements to champion their rights developed. These groups insisted on the men and the government to give back the rights and privileges of the women as citizens of the United States.