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Feminism before the 20th Century

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Feminism before the 20th Century

For generations, women had been subjected to men. Women had no saying in what was going on around them, to what they wanted their lives to be, or even when it came to their bodies. Many women have raised their voices to protest against this subjugation, sometimes at great personal risk. Such is the French case of Marie Gouze(1748-93), who under the name Olympe de Gouges, wrote "Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizen." In this document Marie advocated for civic equality, as well as equal participation in political rights, women's right to vote, and equal education. She presented this document to Marie Antoinette in 1789. Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected and Marie was condemned to the guillotine by the radical Jacobin in the assembly, however the ideals have survived through the years. In the 19th century, due to the industrial revolution, a new middle class with wealth from land, trading, and factories, was created. The women of this class took Marie's ideals and created has come to be known as the feminist movement. These women were educated, and it was obvious to them the rights they were missing, because they saw how the men of their class had acquired these rights with the new found wealth. The goals of the Women's Movement in the 19th century were to get the vote, to archive equality in property rights, access to education, access to jobs and fair pay, divorce, and children's custody. In spite of a few changes women still where a long way from archiving equality at the end of the 19th century, so the women of the 20th century following in the foot step of their feminist ancestors continued the fight for the total realization of all of these goals.

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...transformations can be seen as extensions of the goals set in the 19th century. Childcare can be seen as an extension, of the desire of women to work, since to be able to work someone had to take care of the children. Abortion, and the use of birth control, can be seen as an extension of the desire of women to run their own lives from choosing whom to marry, to choosing whom to vote for. So in one way or another, the transformations that feminism invoked in the 20th century are part of the next logical step after the transformation achieved in the 19th century because at the end, the supreme goal of feminism has always been total equality, or should we say liberation, in all areas, political, sexual, economical, and social.

Word Cited:

Howard Spodek, "The World's History," vol 2. 1998

Roy Macridis and Mark Hulliung, "Contemporary Political Ideologies," 1996
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