Women in Western European History: A Select Chronological, Geographical, and Topical Bibliography, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Vol. 2

Women in Western European History: A Select Chronological, Geographical, and Topical Bibliography, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Vol. 2

Women in Western European History: A Select Chronological, Geographical, and Topical Bibliography, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Vol. 2

Women in Western European History: A Select Chronological, Geographical, and Topical Bibliography, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Vol. 2

Excerpt

"The superintendence of a household, even when not in other respects laborious, is extremely onerous to the thoughts; it requires incessant vigilance . . . at every hour of the day from which the person responsible . . . can hardly ever shake herself free."

John Stuart Mill The Subjection of Women (1869)

The problem that Mill highlighted is with us today. He believed that better education and greater job opportunities for women would accord them their rightful place in bourgeois society. While decrying household chores as stultifying, he never offered concrete suggestions as to who would perform such duties if women did not. In the 120 years since Mill wrote The Subjection of Women, women in Western Europe and the United States have become better educated, and many opt for careers that heretofore had been limited to men. Laborsaving devices and liberated husbands and male companions have even lightened the onerous burden of housework and household management. Yet contemporary women are faced with just as many problems as their nineteenth-century forebears. An investigation of the historical development of woman's place in society will help explain the contravening forces that pull at women today.

Social history, and women's history as a subset thereof, usually reflects more continuities than change over a limited time span. Yet the pattern of European women's history over the past two centuries contradicts that generalization. Starting with the decade of the French Revolution, there has been a slow but sometimes erratic improvement in women's status, generated in part by better education, improved job opportunities, and basic legal and political rights. The activities of the French feminists in the early years of the revolution seemed to herald an age wherein women would be granted equal rights. Unfortunately, these aspirations, along with their proponents, fell victim to the Jacobins in 1793.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.