The Intellectual Role of Women in the 20th Century Essay

The Intellectual Role of Women in the 20th Century Essay

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The Intellectual Role of Women in the 20th Century
During late nineteenth century women were considered inferior and had fewer rights than men. The only two roles expected of her were to be a wife or a mother. Women could not own a property on their name at that time. Divorce laws and custody of children were mainly in favor of men. Women were restrained from going to universities and professional schools. In addition to the educational limitations, women challenged gender stereotypes from the scientists and philosophers. Some educated and professional men from the elite class feared that women will not play their traditional roles in the home and workplace after getting education. Prohibiting women from schools and universities hindered the social and economic advancement. However with the beginning of twentieth century, women started to fight for equal rights and changed the stereotypical views of their role in the society.
With the onset of industrial revolution in western world, the role of women and men in the society were further exaggerated. The traditional belief was that men can only live a public life whereas women must stay at home taking care of their children. Factories started employing men, women even children to boost up their profits. However women were paid less and often fired from their jobs upon marriage or birth of a first child. As a consequence of economic vulnerability and poverty, many of the women had to do prostitution. Both contraception and abortion were illegal at that time. The laws regarding rape normally worked against the women. The European family law was also in disadvantaged to women. The extramarital relationships of a husband were tolerated to a greater degree than a wife. Upon divorce the...


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...he improvement of women’s financial status. The feminist writers often expressed the problems which women faced in literature. Virginia Woolf wrote a novel named “A Room of One’s Own” in 1929 which became the fundamental texts of feminist literature. She emphasized on right of women to participate in intellectual life by having a space not dominated by men and an income of her own. Famous women psychoanalysts Karen Horney and Melanie Klein challenged the Freud’s views about women by establishing a psychoanalytic basis for women. Women writers and artists in early twentieth century depicted women issues in literature. Male authors such as Lawrence and Howells reflected upon issues related to sexuality and sexual politics between men and women. Female authors May Sinclair and Katherine Mansfield brought attention to difficulties women faced in defining their roles.




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