Still working on it... I'm currently double checking that all is cited... I can't stand the thought of reading this over again!!!
Help me I need a new perspective any help and feedback is greatly appreciated of course!! :-))
The 18th and 19th century was an era of revolutionary social, political, and economic changes that circulated throughout the western world, including Europe, the United States, and European colonies in foreign lands. The women's movement was one among the varying conflicts that struggled to gain strength, support, and more importantly direction. Women were troubled by their current social condition and sought to improve upon it, however, their movement for change became increasingly complex or, conversely, increasingly versatile. It took on two different approaches, one that championed equality of the sexes, and the other that embraced and defended the significance of the difference between them as the reason to improve their condition.
The two approaches to the women's movement have converse supporting arguments, yet it is their opposing arguments that unite them to form the feminist movement because it is that opposition what has allowed the two approaches to feed off each other. It created an ultimatum for society since the opposition to one placed them in support of the other. This effectively caused the two approaches to overlap in that where one approach found obstacles the other could gather support.Section 1: The Salonnieres, Difference & Equality Explored
The conversation salons, initiated in early to mid-seventeenth century Paris by Catherine de Vivonne, developed into the arena for debate on religious, philosophical, and social political issues. These salons grew in significance during the Enlightenment in 18th century Europe as the key philosophes began to oppose the Ancien regime. The topics of conversation began to take a more egalitarian tone supporting education as a means for progress and reject traditional and often superstitious beliefs.
Initially, women's role in the salon was to facilitate the development of conversations and ensure the ambience remained pleasant and friendly. Invitations to a salon were sent and prepared by women. The discussions could lead to passionate debate and women were there to serve as intermediaries, "the hostess's role was to encourage and mediate discussion," therefore their participation though limited, was accepted, this allowed women to exchange their ideas with men. The question arises, why women, because the female role in society was acquiescent it meant that their ability to politely divert the conversation and/or appease the participants was part of their characteristics. It is important to also note that women were expected to ask questions because they would not be looked down upon as ignorant, it was understood that women were less intelligent than men, this allowed less knowledgeable men to obtain an explanation for something without making it none to the other men in the room that they lacked the knowledge or understanding. Women were educated and bred to be pleasant, polite, well mannered, capable of diffusing heated situations, as well as humble, and naturally having an inferior aptitude than that of men, therefore, non-threatening, non-confrontational, and non-intimidating, all of which are friendly to the dominant and superior male ego.
The passive role of women in the salons exposed them to the semi-egalitarian thought and planted the seed of self-awareness that would sprout and become the beginnings of the women's movement. Discussions regarding human rights, intellectual capacity, and the significance of the individual allowed them to apply these theories to their own condition in society. The philosophers that attended the salons discussed how "to overcome ignorance and superstition, and to help advance humankind through education." Significant figures whose work was closely tied to the salons were considered encyclopedistes. These were men whose philosophical work would serve and contribute to Diderot's and d'Alembert's 28 volume Encyclopedie. It must be noted that such discussions must have caused those women present to consider their situation and the effect of such reflection must have been their believing in their potential and the beginnings of their realizing their intellectual equality to men. Mme. Geoffrin confirmed, "that it was from the serious discussions in her salon that she received her entire education."
The intellectual salons seem to have sparked the women's movement of the 18th and 19th century, rather than being only one of the venues for the movement. The women's role in the salons was still that of a subordinate or complement to men; a secondary and ornate participant. Conversely, their inclusion in the salons served to expose women to the liberal and radical egalitarian thought of that period which in the past was reserved for the highest male strata in society also kept from other males who did not belong to the upper strata. As the salons grew in popularity, reputation, and significance, the role of female hostesses also progressed and became a more substantial with time. According to _______, the salonnieres controlled their establishment by: determining a list of preferred guest whom were scrutinized by the hostess, selecting the topics for discussions, as well as, monitoring the discussions. This role empowered the salonnieres with status, reputation, and authority. The Enlightenment was the outset for logical decision-making, evaluating issues and people based on educated and rational thought. Although it initially began with the application of egalitarian philosophies to only a select few, it served to revolutionize the views of stratification in western society.
The transition from the Age of Reason to the Age of Enlightenment can be understood by following the development of the European salons, in particular the Parisian salons that became "a serious working space, where new ideas were generated and profound changes in society were proposed by guests who believed in equality and whose intellectual abilities were unquestioned." The international popularity of the salons helped spread the growing perspectives of human equality and the significance of education throughout Europe and the Western world.Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the life of equality, independence, and liberation
The daughter of an English Earl , Lady Montagu was privileged to receive a fine education, which her father encouraged, and furthered her studies with support from her family, conditions that were not common to women in her lifetime. Her posh pedigree and unusually extensive education may have been the primary cause of her radical independence in an era that held most of society in a form of servitude excepting few nobility and royalty. She readily defied her father and eloped with Edward Wortley Montagu whom she had corresponded with frequently and consequently had fallen in love with.
Lady Montagu traveled abroad with her husband and noted the different customs of women in Turkey making intelligent observations about their dress and lifestyle. She maintained correspondence with many aristocratic contemporaries of her time and exchanged opinions freely with some highly educated men as well. While abroad she stumbled upon the practice of inoculation against smallpox and attempted to introduce it at home.
Lady Montagu's independent nature led her to leave her husband and continue traveling and socializing with the intellectuals of her time. It is obvious that her privileged upbringing, vast education, travel abroad and extensive communications with key intellectuals of her time fed her self-determining lifestyle. Her audacious defiance of male figures and her autonomy made her one of the few truly free feminist of the 18th century.The struggles for rights, freedoms, and/or equality.
The popularity of the salons and the free and radical life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu gives the impression of a general intellectual acceptance of the women's movement. This is a false representation that does not reflect the violent struggles of the movement. Olympe de Gouges, a female revolutionary that fell victim to the guillotine, is a prime example of the dangers and difficulties of the feminist movements during the "Enlightenment." She was a notable author in France during the era of the French Revolution and possibly motivated but the struggle she consequently wrote Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Citizen. In this work she addressed the rights of women, designed as a sort of counterpart to Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, unfortunately the public was not open to accepting the remote possibility of equality between the sexes and subsequently she was taken to the guillotine. Jone Johnson Lewis qouted from a report of her execution which read as follows, "it seems the law has punished this conspirator for having forgotten the virtues that belong to her sex."
Women's equality to men was a difficult platform for both sexes accept because the idea of being equal was also equated with being identical mentally, emotionally, as well as physically or biologically. This concept was attacked by both men and women because it was thought to cause confusion and to corrupt the "natural" way of life that was delineated in religious text and/or understood scientifically. For example, women bearing children logically connected them to nurturing them and other tasks that were connected or related to children. If women did not want to have children or be the nurturing mother that "God" and/or "Nature" intended that made them either sinful or demented and in that respect they lost their connection to society and/or humanity because they did not fit. A woman that does not want to be or even act as women "should" has no purpose in society except to be a ridicule, disgrace, and even a corruption of the society.
This argument against women's equality inadvertently gave support to women's movement on the reason of difference between the sexes. The Difference approach to women's liberation and suffrage aimed at people's sympathy to gain support. This approach embraced women's expected gender roles as mothers, wives, caregivers, and champions of morality and ethics, however, it argued that because of the significance of their roles and participation in society they were entitled to vote, express themselves, become educated, and even to exert themselves and make decisions.
Women looking for social change in favor of improving their condition in society found effective arguments, that were not so easily refuted by men, through embracing the expected feminine roles in society and emphasizing the importance of women's responsibilities in society. In German Women For Empire, women sought more active roles in society on the basis of their natural abilities in particularly important fields. Though many feminist still found it too limiting to support, many advocates for the women's movement found this approach more effective, as men also made statements that indicated some support. "Advocates of female nursing never tired of aserting was itself the main qualification for a nurse as one doctor put it "even more than knowledge and experience a whole woman with a brave heart and a loving disposition is needed.""
Ourika is an example of a defense for women right's through difference. As a young girl, Ourika was educated to be an ideal female companion. Only after her realizing that her skin color would never permit her to be accepted within the French upper class and that her turning to men of African descendant would remove her from the culture she knew best did she realize that she needed an alternative.
Equality in the 18th and 19th century may have been too radical for society, including some women, to accept or even consider.