One of the cultural issues that characterized the 20th century was the issue of women participation in work and politics. In the 20th century America, numerous restrictions were directed to the women of the time. Most of the women in this period faced a number of challenges with regard to their desire to participate in politics and work. The culture maintained at the time restricted most women to domestic chores with limitations on the types of jobs that they could engage. The women were denied the free rights to participate in politics, and public jobs, and this led to a number of struggles locally. This study will address this issue of the right of women to active participate in politics and work in the 18th century (Wipprecht 56).
Women Right to work and Politics in the American 20th Century
The 18th century came into being with many of the women in America being left out of the formal structures of the American political life. Women were denied the opportunity to cast their vote, to serve as juries, as well as, to hold elective offices. Women did not vote nor hold an elective office allowing the men in the country to take an active role in the American politics of the day. This situation led most of the women in America to fall prey to the wide-ranging discrimination that made them look at secondary citizens. The beginning of the 18th century saw many of women not taking key roles in many aspects of the public life, especially in relation to the issues of mass media, politics, labor-force participation, and other professional areas (Rosslyn 61).
In addition, the women faced a considerable challenge due to the restrictions that they had in participating in public work and politics. This cultural problem was further facilitated by the fact that most of the women of the 18th century were deeply divided by race, religion, class, region, and ethnicity. This cultural problem led to many of women not to identify with each other; thus, the women lacked collective identity in addressing these pressing issues that was on their side (Thomsen 36). The absence of collective identity among women in this period made it difficult for the building of solidarity among the women. The fact that women could not identify with each other made it difficult for them to fight for their rights to free and active participation in public jobs and politics.
The poor state of women’s solidarity led the women to remain at the lower status in the society in most part of the early 18th century. However, later in this century, a rising number of feminist women began to defy the cultures that were established. This saw the development of a significant wave of feminist activism, which created a shaking in the American society. This wave came up to fight the odds in the mainstream society, and the need to improve the status of the women in America. The waves focused on the visible ways to overturn the dominant culture that saw the exclusion of women from the key activities involving public works, and participation in politics. From the mid 18th century through the 19th century, persistent activism led to the growth of the industry (Thomsen 44).
The restrictions of the women in taking an active role in politics and works in public were further promoted by women’s legal standing. At this period, the women’s legal standing was governed by their marital status, for many of the women had few rights. The marital status of the women had a significant impact on the life that they maintained (Thomsen 50). This is because a married woman had no separate legal identity from that of the husband. For instance, she did not have the right to sue or be sued, for she lacked a separate and independent legal standing in court. The absence of a separate legal standing in court made most of the women have no option but put up with the patriarchal cultures, and practices that were maintained at the time. It also made challenging for women who were not comfortable with their status quo to defy the cultures.
The women in this time did not have the right to own property in their own name nor take on a career of her choice. Family property was owned by men and registered in the names of their husbands. This context denied the women the economic and intellectual power, often leaving most of the women serving in the homes. The fact that women were also not allowed serving on public offices nor did vote deny them the powers to exercise their decision-making abilities. This situation led most of women to be oppressed, yet they had neither voice nor opportunity to raise their issues. According to the supreme court in the early 18th century, they were not included as ‘persons’ under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution created to guarantee equal protection of all persons under the law (Rosslyn 54).
Practically speaking, the 18th century was characterized by the dominance of men in most of the works involving the public. The women were also kept off from the key professions, such as, in medicine and law. For instance, it is estimated that by mid 18th century, women only made 5% of the total number of registered doctors in the United States (Rosslyn 67). This case was almost similar in other European nations including the Germany and France. For instance, in Germany, it said that only an estimated 17% of the women in the country were in professions, such as, a doctor (Rosslyn 75). The restrictions given to the women in participating in key activities, in America, made most of women miss out key lucrative positions. This minimized their powers in the society since they did not hold offices not own the money.
In the early 18th century politics, the women did not have the liberty to vote not take up elective offices. Indeed, the American women had not had the right to vote until the year 1920, when they were allowed to vote. The women did not only lack the freedom to vote, but they also took a minimal role in the political issues of the country. They were denied the freedom to take up political elective offices, which were left for the men. This led to a fight for increased freedom among the women to the extent that, in the year 1984, a considerable party chose Geraldine Ferraro, women of New York to run for vice-president. This major move led to a positive change of culture in women participation, in politics and work.
In essence, the 18th century was a period characterized by the cultural problem regarding the participation of women in public offices and politics. The women were kept off from taking an active role in politics, through the cultural traditions they maintained in the society. It was a formidable challenge to address this issue since the women in the society were split in terms of their race, ethnicity, region, and economic status. This condition made it difficult for women to champion a fight against their discrimination in these key areas of society. This left most of the women taking a subjective role to the established cultures that were put in place. However, the coming of the 19th century saw a significant transformation in the women’s participation, in public offices and politics (Wipprecht 56).
In conclusion, the paper has discussed the issue of women participation in politics and public offices in the 18th century. This problem is one of the main cultural problems that characterized this period, for women were discriminated in taking part in these key areas of life of any given citizens. The American women at this period faced a challenging time as they pursued to take an active role in politics and work. The challenge was further motivated by the absence of a collective force among women, who were divided on ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and regional grounds. However, the paper has acknowledged that the coming of the 19th century saw significant improvements in the participation of women, in politics and public offices. They are also given a chance to contribute in significant matters regarding economy, and other technical fields.
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