Monday, February 2, 2015

Reacting Differently Because of Gender

Women's Roles in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, women were not treated equally to men. They were expected to cook, clean, take care of the kids, and basically do everything at home while their husbands were working. The photo to the right is an illustration of what a typical household would in the 19th century during the day. What is rather inaccurate about this picture is the calmness and cleanliness of the house. With 2 little kids, an infant, and a dog to take care of, the woman would probably be more stressed out and running around like a crazy person. The picture also shows toys and books, showing that it was the mother's job to educate and entertain them. Things like food and cleaning supplies would probably make the illustration more realistic. The picture most likely shows an upper class family. The furniture and curtains were very elegant and the toys looked new. Also, the children has access to books which was rare. This sends the message that if you don't live in this lifestyle, you kind of are a failure. Because of all their responsibilities, they were not really taken seriously when asking for equal rights. There were many different reactions to their demands.

Equality Demands + The Seneca Falls Convention

Something needed to change in terms of women's rights. The Laws and Practices included some of the laws and conditions for women in the US in 1848. Some surprising ones included the fact that it was considered improper for a woman to speak in public, and that it was legal in most states for a man to beat his wife. The Seneca Falls Convention played a huge role in getting women what they deserved. At the convention in upstate New York, the idea of women voting was publicly demanded for the first time. In the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, there were resolutions that addressed the concerns from the Laws and Practices. One line from the Declaration said "He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her." The Laws and Practices stated that no college in the US accepted women as regular students until 1837. 

Mixed Reactions to Equality Demands

The first essential question we needed to learn was; how did mid-19th century society react to women's demands for equality? Many people reacted differently to women's demands for equality. First off, let's talk about the reactions that different newspapers had. The Oneida Whig newspaper had a negative reaction to the demands. In their article published August 1, 1848, they wrote "They should recollect however, the illustrious member of their bolting sisterhood who had not long worn the nether garments before she found it in her heart to disgrace her man's apparel and to cry like a woman." This tells us that this newspaper really didn't take the women reformers seriously, and thought they would just end up 'crying like a woman' instead of getting anything to change. Another newspaper that had a negative attitude towards it was The Recorder, published on August 3, 1848. They called the reform movement silly in this quote; "We need not say that we think the movement excessively silly..". Of course there were positive reactions in the media, like in the National Reformer, published August 10, 1848. It included; “We think it the duty of every candid person to hear every proposal for the elevation of our race, and if they fall, l....”. This newspaper was very supportive, and responded to these women in seriousness. The overall idea is that people were starting to now notice that women are not treated equally to men, whereas before, the whole idea of equality was ignored. 

Reacting Different to Men and Women Today

The next essential question is; does 21st Century society still react differently to men and women? I do believe that the general public reacts differently based on a person's gender. Not every single person still does, but it seems like the media still takes gender into consideration before anything. For example, when a man makes a speech publicly or does basically anything on TV, the media reacts by discussing what he talked about and his ideas, which is normal. However, if a woman makes a public statement, I notice that the media focuses more on what she looked like while doing it, what she was wearing, how old she looked, how revealing her clothes were, or how bad her hair looked. Even though many people don't care about that, the general public seems to love it. A good example of how men and women are portrayed differently is a Pantene commercial shown above. It shows men and women doing the same things, but has different words and judgements for each one. For example, when a man is in charge and is telling people to do things, he is the boss. But when women do it, they are bossy. I agree with the commercial and I think that different labels are put on people due to their gender. Overall, men and women are portrayed very differently in today's society, just not as much as they used to be. 

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