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Views on the Status of Women throughout the Years

Info: 2714 words (11 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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Characteristics of Female

 There has been an unequal characteristic among the female population. Starting from the 18th century into the 20th century, women were seen incapable of being the one in power. In the 18th century, women were disrespected and humiliated by man. During that time, man was seen as superior, strong, and smarter than female. The man felt like they’re the ones that created many things. Even though some of that description is true but, in some cases, women over the past century learned to become their own self by being able to educate themselves and still have the tendency to be the one to prefer sex to be nurturing. Moving toward the 19th to the 20th century, women started to learn a lot about themselves. In the paper, I will be discussing an article written by Charles Darwin, another article written by Eliza Burt Gamble, the third article would be Slorum, another piece written by Gero, Londa Schiebinger, Cynthia Russett, Joan Roughgarden, and last piece written by the same author is Londa Schiebinger. Presenting these sources, we see the changes in how female evolved throughout the century than male has. Therefore, the female characteristic revolutionized the social views in the traditional roles they were put in by the society that consists of class, male dominance, and competition.

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As women start to evolve over the years into the nineteenth century, women have learned that society is an unfair land of white men mistreating their characteristics as female. Charles Darwin The Descent of Man, he focused mainly in the 19th century. In the article, he explains how the male is a better living creature than a female was, during the time evolution was happening. Therefore, in the article; Darwin was strongly against women than male: “Thus man has ultimately become superior to woman” (585). As you can see that men are in the hierarchy than women. It also shows that women are treated differently than men are, upon the society they lived in. There is a lot of inequality among both fender because men are the ones that invented the tools and women to be the motherly figure for their children. In the perspective of Darwin, women are known to be weak and have tradition roles compared to men.

Many people believe that women are weak and not intelligent because of their sex and how society sees them as. Women’s characteristic is being loving and have the ability to nurture their infants not as men would. Women are distinguishing a positive quality toward their children because of gender roles of being a housewife. Darwin is contributing the explanation of the female evolution while maintaining their traditional roles feature in what society predicts them to be. The next era we will be going back to is the 18th century, where the idea of women are powerless even coming from their status of nurturing their babies. For example, the article “Natures Body,” by Schiebinger states “…unused breast was indeed realized in the bodies of many medieval and early modern upper- and middle-class European women who avoided the burden of suckling their own children” (62). Women within upper class are considered having the purity of their breast than women in the lower class that used breast is not pure. This considers that even women are unequal in the social class of the hierarchy not just in gender. Female are put into different categories by their breast, knowledge, colored, and even the social roles that are put upon them when they first were born. In the end of the 18th century, women of all classes are still shown as submissive and dominated by males around them. Male dominance truly has affected the late 18th century. White men would be the only one that had a say to everything, and women will not be the sex that can express their feelings in overpowering the men. Females would never have the right idea of being the one in power except in the traditional way that society had put them in but eventually it changes.

Darwin always predicate that man will always be the first choice of evolution and women would be the last choice. There will be always one side that agrees with what a white man would say, and others would disagree on what a white man would say. Throughout the 19th century, there are changes among the female population such as writer comparing Darwin’s works to their article to see if any of the information from Darwin has changed in their view of looking into the sexes. In her text, Eliza Burt Gamble, “the Supremacy of the Male,” published in 1976. She focuses on using Darwin as her source of analyzing male superiority and characteristics of women. Therefore, in the article a quote strongly analyzes the characteristic of women in the 19th century is:

…Sexual Selection, have been and still are largely dependent on the will or choice of the female…Mr. Darwin seems to have overlooked the importance of the distinctive characters belonging to the female organism, viz.., perception and intuition, combined with greater powers of endurance…a man and a woman are put in competition, both possessed of every mental quality in equal perfection (Gamble 76-77). Women could overcome the longtime social norms in being weak over the years. Eventually, started to change because women are capable of being able to process information more than men would. Sexual selection in Gamble’s view is understood that majority of the choice is chosen by women. An important source in making sexual selection to occur is when females are the ones to reproduce offspring for future generations. Darwin would disagree because he had said that sexual selection is how the opposite sex would have a competition of fighting over the mate by nature. Competition between both sexes is not seen in Gamble’s article because of how one sex is preferably dominated than the other to make a decision. A woman can be equally fitted in possessing the mental development in choosing a preferred mate. There are things in this century that are oppressing women. Women cannot compete with men that do not have the same importance. The problem is how society believes that only a male individual should be the one in control, then a female individual that can only “reproduce” in their minds.

 Society is the monarch in charge of reproducing a different selection from the previous white male scientist that knows how both sexes would be over the years. Eventually, many more female writers started to disagree with Darwin such as Cynthia Russett. Russett had written an article in the nineteenth century called Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood. She does not believe that women are weak and not intelligent in what they are achieving. Russett cites Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gliman belongs to the era when Gamble was alive. Therefore, in the article, a quote from Gliman says:

“…Economic independence was the philosopher’s stone that would dissolve the sexuo-economic relation and free women to make their rightful contribution to the future of the race” (Russett 86). This is making Gilman think that women should be free to the world and adjust the sexism in the world by having women working in the same field as men. The idea of Gilman’s work is understanding that women can play a whole new aspect in looking at them in the economy and society. If men and women equally work in a friendly manner and even come together in making a decision can evolve future generations to have an understanding between the sexes.

 As we move toward the 20th century, women are becoming more independent, and we can also see that they are a nurturing mother who care for their children survival. The author Sally Slocrum wrote, “Women the Gather: Make Bias in Anthropology.” In this 1971 to 1975 article, she goes back in time were Darwin and Oakley were alive, to discuss the bias on white male and how they get credit for what has been done over the years. Slocrum demonstrates how women can be independent and smart. For example, “In the modern groups, women and children both gather and hunt small animals…with the mothers gathering quite efficiently both for themselves and for their offspring” (Slocrum 43). As you can see, women had learned the importance’s of being independent without relying on men to come back with the food they hunted. She talks more about women being a nurturing mother to their children than talking about father nurturing their children. Women in this part of the century has become strong and fearless females that would do the hunting and even show their children how to survive on their own. Mothers are more aware in how to nurture their children’s than their father would because mother’s make sure her family do not starve themselves to death while waiting on their so called “father” to come back. Instead, women are taking initiative to feed their children and train them for survival. Resulting female to not rely on male individuals anymore.

   I’ll be moving into the reproductive mating in female. This is where one of the authors named Joan Roughgarden criticizes 1871 Darwin’s “Sexual Selection.” In her 2004 article “Female Choice,” a quote strongly characterized how Roughgarden mention how female species (not the male species) have to pick the right mate to determine their offspring’s are safe and that is “..females choose males not for their great genes but for the likelihood of actually delivering on their promise of parental care: female are looking to avoid deadbeats ” (Roughgarden 125). This is where Roughgarden undermines the idea of how females are the ones to choose the rightful mate to protect her children from danger. She is also claiming Darwin is wrong about how he saw the evolution of mating. Darwin focus mainly on mating to the point he is ignoring survival itself. Relating back to Slocrum, how the mother are the ones nurturing their children until their father comes back from hunting. The example shows that species are smart about who they want to mate and be involved with in their lives. Same goes for human beings; women always want to make sure that they are picking the right men to take home with and be able to care her children. We can see now that female has a powerful voice when deciding who to turn away from. Unlike the 1800’s, were women had no say in anything and had to live up the female standard for the man they were with. This is the turning point where all female in species and human being are becoming more smarter in survival.

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Let us go back into the late 20th century, where many individuals mostly men think that women are weak and not intelligent because they still have jobs such as housework and easy things that does not relate to making tools. The author who believes that women do not need males to help them at all is Joan Gero. In her 1991 article “Genderlithics: Women’s Role in Stone Tool Production,” where Gero argues how women can be smart and how they have an impact in the process of tool making. Also, how smart women were in collecting their materials to make the tools they needed. There is a part where Gero shows the ways in how women became independent and stronger,

“Since the user of a tool is in the position to judge its adequacy, it makes sense that women produced many of their tools, and indeed it would be most inefficient for them to rely on men for these needs, Finally, women are both strong and smart enough to produce stone tools” (Geo 170).

This relates back to Slocrum because women had to find a way to provide for their children while waiting for the male to come back from hunting. Resulting women to use local material to make their tools with their children. For example, some may argue that it is a man’s job to create tools because of how women are being portrayed as not the sex to be heavy lifting but in reality, there were ways women can learn to do what men do. The creation of tools made women to become strong and admirable to many. As women learned that they do not need a man to rely on, we will be going back a few years, to demonstrate there were still gender inequality among females in between the eras.

  We are now heading toward 1997, there was a book written where they talked about how women were part of the modern science back in the centuries were women was treated as if nothing. The same author Londa Schiebinger The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science mainly focused on how women came a long way in modern science and how they were part of the science. For example, “women would come gathered together at home, “Every Wednesday persons of “all ages, both sexes, and all professions” gathered ar the home of Jacques Rohault to watch him attempt to give an experimental base to Descartes physics” (Schiebinger 23). This is where women were showing a stronger side because during this time, they were stepping up for what they wanted to learn especially when modern science fill with males. Women were treated like their intelligence were not as high as the males because they only think of only one sex that would dominate over time, but we can see how women became much stronger in achieving their goals. Eventually, leading those women to their own path on being awarded for their achievement being a scientist and other working fields that is dominated by males.    

As you can see, the different events that had happen in the history of women evolving over the years. Women are the forefront in making evolution happen because of their reproduction system and their nurturing abilities. To conclude, women are more likely to be on the same level as men or even higher than men in the mental abilities they have, if men stop oppressing them. This can result in women being the female population to be economically well off without any male dominance around them. Women will be the future of being confident, independent, working in the same field as men, and the one in making decisions. Overall, gender inequality will change over the period of time because of how women are changing each year to become their own self and realizing how important they are to mankind.

Works Cited

  • Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man; and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2nd ed. 1874. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1998.
  • Gamble, Eliza Burt. “The Supremacy of the Male.” The Sexes in Science and History: An Inquiry into the Dogma of Woman’s Inferiority to Man. Reprint, Westport, Hyperion Press, 1976. 74-92.  Originally published as The Evolution of Woman by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1894. Revised edition originally published as The Sexes in Science and History by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1916.
  • Gero, Joan M. “Genderlithics: Women’s Roles in Stone Tool Production.” Engendering Archaeology: Women and Prehistory. Ed. Joan M. Gero and Margaret W. Conkey. Cambridge: Oxford UP, 1991.
  • Roughgarden, Joan. “Female Choice.” Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2004. 106-126.
  • Russett, Cynthia. “Hairy Men and Beautiful Women.” Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1989. 78-103.
  • Schiebinger, Londa. Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science. 1993. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 2004.
  • Schiebinger, Londa. The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1989.
  • Slocum, Sally. “Woman the Gatherer: Male Bias in Anthropology.” 1971. Toward an Anthropology of Women. Ed. Rayna Rapp Reiter. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975.


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