Women in the Late 19th Century

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Throughout nineteenth century Europe and leading into the twentieth century, the division and integration of equal rights and liberties towards both genders was a predominant issue. From the 1860’s and beyond, male suffrage was expanding due to working-class activism and liberal constitutionalism, however women were not included in any political participation and were rejected from many opportunities in the workforce. They were considered second-class citizens, expected to restrict their sphere of influence to the home and family, and therefore not encouraged to pursue a beneficial education or career. Because they were seen as such weak entities, the only way they were able to advocate their interests and dissatisfaction was through their own independent organizations and forms of direct action. With hard work towards improving women’s involvement in the workforce and towards political emancipation, womanhood gradually became redefined. When looking back on these crucial times in history, it is necessary to view how various images and ideas of females represented such integral symbols in modern Europe that influenced the pivotal changes they succeeded in putting forward. Earlier photos show women in society as solely conforming to what society wants them to be, however later this changes and images of women go against what is seen as appropriate and advertise the efforts made towards gender equality. When concerning the home front of 19th century Europe, women were “the cult of domesticity” and were highly regarded as wives, mothers, and part of the working class. A lofty character was necessary in completing the demanding tasks surrounding the home life. Images of women ranging from newspapers to fine art all displayed the univ... ... middle of paper ... ...e of women defined nineteenth century womanhood, as they refused the cultural norms that previously defined them. Photos of women displayed doing work in the clerical field, wearing voluminous trousers with short skirts, smoking cigarettes, and enjoying social outings empowered conservative women to follow who may have originally rejected these new values. For most, these new symbols were the representation of the ultimate social and political emancipation for women. Images of women throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have both shaped women’s outlook on their lives in the workplace, at home, and in politics, and have also encouraged change for them as individuals. While often times women are seen as weak individuals that have minor influence on society, artistic evaluations and various writings throughout history have successfully proved otherwise.

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