Women as far has in the sixteenth through seventeenth and more so in the eighteenth centuries had difficulties in expressing themselves in the social, cultural settings of those ages. This system never granted merit to female’s rights. Women found themselves being molested and looked down upon by the men who possessed male chauvinism and never saw women as equal to them. In Africa and Asian countries women were less valued than animals. This is because in Africa particularly when a man used to express his wealth and status in the society, he would start with the number of boy children he had followed by number of domestic animals and the women would come last. This showed how females had any right in the society.
However, in the mid sixteenth century things started moving towards favor to the ladies side. Some women were recognized for their work, such as painting, to become public figures. Such women included Judith Leyster and Elisabetta Sirani. Political and social events during this period accelerated the attention to women’s rights that they could stand out and fight for their say in the society. They were able to stand up and speak out about the injustices that men had led them to submit to.
Education reform played a critical role in the turn of events that women could stand up and face men without any fear. It gave them the confidences and strength that they could do what men did and more so as the expression goes “what a man can do a woman can do better." It was an expression that motivated many women to stand out and say no to mistreatment and violence from men. Moreover, also to fight for leadership positions in society as men did. Though modern way of feminism never existed during this century, many women spoke out on their behalf and shed to light the bad conditions they faced in the hands of men although this was indirect through use of a variety of creative but subversive methods.
In the sixteenth century Europe had allowed little if any, opportunities to the involvement of women in matters to do with an economy of their countries. They were best known (women) as the managers of the households. They were supposed to focus on the practical domestic works and duties that could see the improvement of their families and in particular their husbands. Any lady who could speak against these laid down rules was to be exiled from the community. A good example of the effectiveness of this rule was the excommunication of Anne Hutchison, who had challenged the rule of Puritan clergy. This was because of her outspoken nature and controversial actions against the mistreatment of women in the society. Also in 1545 Anne Askew a well- educated and outspoken protestant, because of her denial on transubstantiation was tried and imprisoned.
Despite the advent of the age of print during this century, literacy rate was very low and the bible was the main guide to the low classes’ people including the ladies. Religious studies were considered as a tool for women pursuit and provided a link through which they could express their sentiments and ideas. Also, women during this age used to express themselves through autobiographies and private letters.
The eighteenth century was seen as the start of the saw called British Cultural Revolution. The powers of the middle- class people during this age increased and also women roles began to emerge and acceptable in the society. The improvement of the economy made women have the opportunity to be involved in the building of the nation through contribution in commerce. Women also helped their husbands in their duties outside home. Although the stereotype towards women being unable to undertake some duties in society still existed in some people’s minds, the upper class ladies were able to be distinguished from the rest of the community ladies and men. This was because they were now knowledgeable about commerce and even better than men who were considered superior.
With the start of consumerism, it allowed ladies to change their display and fashion and also they started to write some etiquette guides on how society should view them with respect and as equal to the gentry. Also, due to the social Cultural Revolution, literacy level among the female rose at a higher rate. This caused an increase in publishing that further made women voice be heard far and globally by all sorts of people. Hence, women could exchange periodicals on the different cultures which existed in different parts of the world. This motivated those who were still lagging behind in the fight against feminism to learn new ideas that had worked in other parts of the world.
Throughout the entire world, females were able to take action in order to advance their social and political rights in their nations. In 1762, Catherine the Great from Russia advanced a coup d’etat to overthrow the government of Russia. This was an aggressive way of preventing her son’s for being barred to inherit their property. After rising to the throne, she ruled in an independent and unconventional manner, laying down all men who helped her in her ascension to power. She also remained unmarried in order to ensure her power.
It was through this early fight against feminism that led to where the modern woman is today. She has many powers and rights, and was viewed in most instances as equal to the male. It, therefore, downs that the expression which was a long time ago expressed, “what a man can do a woman can do better” is now working.
Clark, Alice. Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century. New York: A.M. Kelley, 1968. Print.
Phillips, Melanie. The Ascent of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement and the Ideas Behind It. London: Little, Brown, 2003. Print.