Freedom of gender has been making a strongimpact on any community. It is based on the concept of human freedom, which isa basic human right. It affects people in their homes, schools, and workplaces,and its bigger effects are in our social development. Women’s roles weredifferent depending on the times. Today, women prefer to have their own careerequal rights with men instead of being satisfied with the role of homemakers. Alook back at history from the 1600s through the 1860s shows that women’s rightsmovements made the economic, political, and social status of women equalopportunities to that of men, which was the positive effects of the changingrole of women.In the 1600s and the 1700swoman had no idea of their rights. They were not allowed to attend schools, orthey learned only a minimal education if they were born into wealthy families.
If not, they expected to getmarried, have children, running a household, and work often alongside theirhusbands. North America’s First Peoples were Indians. The role of the native Indian women was equally important to that of themen and they had powers. In general, American Indian men wereliable to battle, hunt and interact with outsiders, so they had more publicroles. Native American women’s workvaried to the environment in which they lived but they usually owned thefamily’s housing and household goods. Medicinewomen were also responsible for gathering herbs, preparing medicines andnursing the sick.
They did all the manual labor. Their strength was alsonecessary to the survival of the tribes. Because the women had a voice,they held important economic, social, and political power. For example, in manyNorth American communities all practiced through women of matrilineal descent.
The women selected men to serve as their chiefs, and they failure chiefs ifthey fail to satisfy. “Seventeenth-century colonists certainly found nativewomen attractive, but a combination of factors-the general perception ofIndians as loose and immoral, fear of the unfamiliar, and the dark specter ofcultural contamination.”1Other women worked as slaves or servants.
Tocut down costs on the tobacco farms, the initiation of slavery in Americaexpanded. African female slaves were soon to be entered the colonial society. The slaves had no rights at all. Slaves, both menand women, were bought and sold as cheap labors to become profitable. Theyworked for up to eighteen hours every day with no days off during theyear. The African women wereattributed not only economic responsibilities, but also often sexual duties andpregnancy were of primary importance to the wealthy and white men wereattracted by African womanhood. Over the slave trade, black women were observedas immoral and promiscuous through the sexually repressed European perspective.Manyblack women did not have the modesty of their impaired moral nature thatincreased sex force.
Another view of black women was established by thereligion. These opponents of slavery showed the black women as an innocentvictim of white male appetency. Female slaves were basically brought to the colonies as an investment tosugar and tobacco plantation owners. They were physically compelled to work like the men in thefields, even if they were pregnant, and had to reproduce more slaves, whichmeant their children became the property oftheir owners. They were not allowed to marry with other slavesprofessedly because marriage between slaves was not admitted by the colonies. “Women’s roles as wives andmothers surely were among the most vital in this project; but beyond that, thecontributions African women made to the communities of American slavery farexceeded the reproductive roles with which those women are generallyassociated.”2.
In the slaveareas, the colonial women basically lived in crude wooden cabins consisting ofone or two rooms with a dirt floor. Female slaves that didn’t farm theland next to their male counterparts were in the homes with the gentry’s classwomen. They cleaned the houses, cared for the children, cooked and assisted inany way necessary.
Carrying water, doing the laundry and routine chores such asmaking beds was expected and emptying chamber pots day to day. They alsofocused on the signs and call of their masters and master’s wives all day. Theslave women that worked in the fields during the day also had to provide dinnerfor their families when they come home. In contrast to African andIndian women, European women cameas indentured servants who required to serve for certain years in exchange fortheir benefits such as food, clothing, or passage to the colonies. Their roleswere affected by the formation of slavery. Women who couldn’t afford slavehelp, were often put back into household duties. During the colonialperiod in America, European women remained the legal protections.
Europeanwomen were managed by colonial laws, so the women could protect their legalrights. They did traditional roles including weavingclothing, preparing and serving the food, and raising and educating theirchildren. They also worked in the fields cropping the land and farming. “Colonialgovernments tried to impose their version of marital and sexual propriety uponthe population, passing laws that required public marriage and denouncing anyother form of sexual relationship.
“3For instance, when they were abused their indentured servant women violated,sexually or physically, they had a right to complain at the local court.However, in some control of patriarchal models, they could not travel or marryduring the contract, or they would be incriminated. “English women whoconceived children by Indian or African men introduced nonwhite blood intoEnglish families and quite possibly their lines of inheritance.” 4Indeed, the statutes passed across North America women might be unfair to gaintheir freedom.The events happened in the1800s contributed to the development of more independence on women.
There weredifferent equal opportunities in education and the workplace, or women’ssuffrage. Between 1793 and 1860, the market revolution had more ofopportunities for women. Thegreatest impact of the revolution on women was that theyhad a choice to work outside. Many factories began to produce things women hadpreviously done at home, such as weaving and spinning.
In 1848, women’s movement officially started with the SenecaFalls Convention. “On August 2, 1848, the meetingbegan… The women’s rights movement in America had officially begun.”5 In 1852, Susan B. Anthony joined the movement, and she spenther life to women’s suffrage when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S.Constitution guaranteed women’s right to vote in 1920. In the past, women’s rightswere limited and controlled by their husbands.
Women’s roles have changed andare making great impacts in our society because of more women working outsideand more women in college. They are presently playing an important role in manyareas such as business. They are educating themselves to be successful in life.For example, young women have attained power in management positions as thesame number of young men. However, there is still a major barrier when they getmarried and then taking long breaks to raise their children. Usually, womenhave two full-time jobs at work and at home. More than men, they are stillresponsible for cooking, grocery shopping and all the other domestic duties asthe keepers of the house although men try to share the households with theirwives.
The gaps of gender caused many importantevents and developments throughout the history of America. Today, women’srights are becoming better, but they still continue to struggle for theirrights to be more independence and to make a fair world for everyone. Women are trying to avoidmany obstacles that they face on their way to be successful. They need to provetheir abilities in all areas much harder than men do. Women are stepping up totake on new responsibilities they deserve by joining public office, serving inGovernment, or running their own business. Many families made women’s roles asthe same as men when it comes to housework, childcare, and jobs. Only when allwomen and girls have their rights of economic, political, and social life, andit will exit true equality.
1 Richard, Godbeer. Sexual Revolution in Early America(Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 158.2 Smallwood, Stephanie. SaltwaterSlavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Massachusetts:Harvard University Press, 2008), 198.3 Richard, Godbeer.
Sexual Revolution in Early America(Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 7.4 Ibid., 6.5 Frost-Knappman, Elizabeth & Cullen-DuPont, Kathryn. Women’s Suffrage in America, Updated Edition(New York: Facts On File, 2005), 74.