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Women’s History through Time

Women’s History through Time

by Daniel Antonsson

When it comes to women’s history, it took a long time until women started to get a place and a little more attention, the bigger part of the research that was done before the year 0f 1950, did not take in consideration the role that women had played over the years. Women were mostly seen as a male appendage, which is a shame. In the cases when women did occur in the history books they were usually defined from their masculine side. Focus where on history about men, about kings, field lords and war. With the women’s movement starting during the 1960s that with time led to more equality between the genders also shifted the focus on history research and regular peoples life which included women to a higher degree started to be of interest.

The history of women was mostly devoted to answering the question of how women lived their life through history and it was often a dark miserable picture that was painted up.

By looking more closely at men’s and women’s relationships, how norms around what is perceived as feminine and masculine arose and changed, as well as how it has affected people throughout history, a more complete picture of the past is created. After all, women are not created by nature to be subordinate to men, but that depends on the norms that arose and permeated society.

If we start out looking at the ancient society, it was strongly militaristic and the male warrior appeared as an ideal. As a result, boys were considered to have greater value than girls.

Of some kind of weird reason, women were largely excluded from public life in ancient Greece. Democracy in Athens included only men who were Athenian citizens. Women were not allowed to
participate, and neither were men who originated elsewhere.

During the middle ages the position of women depended on which social class she belonged to. Regardless of social status, all unmarried and married women were not allowed to bring their own case in court. They were also not allowed to manage their own property. When the woman married, the man took over the guardianship, which previously belonged to the woman’s father. It was only if the husband died that the woman (widow) was equated with the man and came of age.

However, to claim that women in the Middle Ages could not wield great power is wrong. There were of course many influential women, who in some cases even became regents and ruled over large kingdoms. But the great majority of women in the Middle Ages lacked power and influence.

The position that women had in society did not change much for many years, but with time things slowly started to be a little different.

The declaration of independence in USA 1776, as well as the industrial revolution were examples of events that started to change up things. It did put the light on all peoples rights and women started to work to a greater degree outside the home, many of them in the manufacturing industry, but with time there were other jobs available for women. Low wages often lead to the whole family including the children having to work to give them a chance to survive, but women had lower wages than men and did not have a strong position.

As the years passed important steps where taken, for example:
1833 — Oberlin College was founded as the first co-educational institution that accepted women and African Americans.
1848 — New York passes the Married Women’s Property Act. For the first time, a woman isn’t automatically liable for her husband’s debts; she could enter contracts on her own; she could collect rents or receive an inheritance in her own right; she could file a lawsuit on her own behalf. She became for economic purposes an individual.
1920 — The 19th Amendment is ratified and grants women the right to vote.
1936 — Medicinal use of birth control is established.
1937 — The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Washington state’s minimum wage laws for women.
1964 — The Civil Rights Act passes, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
1972 — No sex discrimination in all aspects of education programs that receive federal support.
1973 — The Supreme Court declares that the Constitution protects women’s right to terminate an early pregnancy, thus making abortion legal in the U.S.
1987 — The congress designates March as Women’s History Month.
2013 — The ban against women in military combat positions is removed; this overturned a 1994 Pentagon decision restricting women from combat roles.
2020 — Kamala Harris is sworn in as the first woman as the vice president of the United States.

A lot of good things have happened leading up to today but there are still things that need to be done.

Across the globe many women and girls still face discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Gender inequality underpins many problems as for example domestic and sexual violence, lower pay, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare.

Freedom of movement, the right to move around freely as we please, not just within the country we live in, but also to visit others.

Even though 180 countries have approved the convention that should protect women’s rights under international law, the reality is not always as it should be and many women live under difficult conditions.

My thoughts go out to all amazing women out there in the world. I salute you.

Daniel Antonsson is a 43 year old Autistic man living in Sweden with his Venezuelan girlfriend and four year old daughter. He has always enjoyed writing about different subjects and being able to publish for the Art of Autism make him feel truly blessed.

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