Austen and Wollstonecraft on Female Education during Romantic Era

 

Introduction

During colonial era, women were faced by various challenges that affect their way of life and operations within their respective societies. Therefore, men enjoyed most of the rights as compared to the rights that were enjoyed by women. For instance, women had no control over inheritance as all the inheritance was for men. Similarly, women had no formal education as compared to their counterparts, men as revealed by Dolan (p56). Women also lacked control over their earning despite working to earn their wages. Within some communities, women were not allowed to vote or participate in any elective political position. Equally, because of being illiterate, women were not allowed to hold higher offices in various governments and private offices. Moreover, women had no control over their lives, as their husbands were even responsible for their discipline. In the presence of the above challenges, women found it difficult to rise within different communities. Therefore, they remained culturally, socially, politically, economically and financially disadvantaged.

Roles of Women in the Romantic Era

            Just like any other societal environment, women continued to face different challenges during the Romantic era despite the efforts of some leaders for their freedom. For instance, due to the rigidity of life at the time, women were more disadvantaged, a normal scenario that was controlled by the rule of law. For instance, based on the laws of the land, women were not allowed to participate in any political activities (Berhrendt 134). Therefore, only men were allowed to elect their leaders. However, in spite of being barred from such political activities, they were still under the control of the elected political leaders. More to that point, women were also not allowed to vie for any political position but were expected to respect the rule of the law set by these politicians. As a result, most of the rules and regulations set were did not favor women, as they were not part of the formation of the laws.

Besides being barred for political participation, women were also barred from doing higher paid jobs. Although some of the women might have required skills and experience on the jobs offered by the government or any other private institutions, they had no right of holding such offices dues to discrimination as found by Shulman and Connolly (p27). For instance, because women were operating under the control of men, no woman was allowed to have a job either equal or higher than men did within their working premises. Thus, they only participated in doing lower ranked jobs. Similarly, women were known to be doing family chores rather other, which were preserved for men. For instance, they were to take of the family by performing certain duties such as cooking, washing of clothes and dishes, taking care of their children and ensuring general cleanliness of the house among other designated duties.

Anther challenge faced by women was that they had no right to property as compared to men do. Properties denial covers land, household properties and even their own children. Therefore, despite being part of the family, all the properties belonged to men, who are the head and controller of their families (Doalan 94). More to that point, women had no control over decision making within their families as their husbands made the entire decisions. In the process, they were expected to obey their husband decisions even if such decisions were against their wish. Moreover, women were expected to bear children and ensure that their children were safe but had little control over them.

However, not all the women were disadvantaged during the time. Women widows were given some little privileges as compared to other women because they had doubled responsibilities, both for their late husband’s and their own duties. For instance, some of the women were expected to work and provide for their families as well as performing other domestic chores. Therefore, with doubled duties, some of the widows were allowed to participate in political activities as echoed by Shulmann and Connolly (p30). For instance, they were allowed to vote for some of their leaders but only within specified areas. On the other hand, these women had little impact on such duties as they had no knowledge on political affairs. Therefore, most of the decisions still relied on men; therefore, it had little impact despite having the opportunity to involve in such activities. Similarly, women were not allowed to undergo through separation or divorce even when they are mistreated with their families due to various reasons.

For instance, in the process of running away because of divorce or separation, they would be charged of stealing their clothes. This was an offence because they had no control over these clothes. Therefore, taking their clothes with them would result to prosecution by their husbands. Thus, even in the process of disagreement between husband and their women, women had no option but to remain within their husband compounds while facing their family challenges. This was opposed to men who may leave their compounds or families without getting permission from their husbands (Hammond & Nickola 213). However, there were consequences that men face when they harm their wives, but they were not severe as compared to women’s punishment. For instance, men who were found by the law to have been killed their wives would be hung while women found with similar offence would be burnt alive.

Roles of Education among Women during Romantic Era

            Educations also become a major challenge among women during the Romantic era. Many of the women during the era were not allowed to have formal education. According to the beliefs of the British Empire, only men were allowed to receive formal education to higher levels, as they were to take positions in both government and private institutions as political leaders, organizational managers, teachers, drivers and machine operators among other duties (Dolan 132). Therefore, the level of education among women was much lower as compared to med. Failure to have formal education impacted women in various. For instance, the women were unable to work in officers as compared to men. Likewise, women at the time were unable to earn better wages because the jobs they were being offered were for lower wages as compared to their counterparts.

Besides lower pay, women had no time to participate in other jobs that would generate extra wages for them because they were also required to perform their domestic duties such as taking care of their young ones. Women also were unable to enjoy their political rights because they were unable to participate in various political rights. For instance, they were not allowed to vote and were not allowed to make any political decision. In the process, most of the political decisions that were made in the absences were against their developments (Hammond & Nickola 220).  Moreover, these women had not political representative body that would air their grievances as far as political affairs are concerned. As a result, various challenges that women were facing could not be solved as compared to men’s challenges.

However, solutions to various challenges faced by women came into reality in the wake of the French Revolution. Through the French Revolution, the movement was mandated to ensure that challenges like gender inequality based on education, sex, division of labor, political participation and women discrimination of any nature were eradicated completely. With the presence of leaders such as Mary Wollstonecraft, who came up with restrictions under which women lived (Shulman & Connolly 30). Although the policies of the leader were not effective as expected, these rules become more effective at the time Victoria inherited the throne in1837. During this time, women enjoyed various rights and freedoms. For instance, women were allowed to participate in political activities such as voting towards electing their leaders.

Besides electing their leaders, another right enjoyed by these women was lack of discrimination. For instance, rules and regulations were enacted that barred people from heckling and laughing at women. Therefore, women became respected members of the society just like men, which was in the contrary to the ancient days. It is also through the French Revolution that most women in the region began to understand the meaning of motherhood. Therefore, it helps women to understand that motherhood is a sacred calling (Dolan 165). Therefore, apart from only taking care of their children without having controlling over them became outdated. Women also ensured that they become part of the political call. They forced for women political representatives in the government through the election of their own representative. This helps in dealing with gender inequality. However, it did not fully solve their problems fully as they were in smaller numbers in such positions as compared to men. Therefore, men still had more influence in decision making as compared to them.

Many women also started receiving formal education just like men in the past. For instance, some of the learned women at the time participated in writing of various literature materials. Some of the commonly literature materials written and produced by women include painting, novels and poetry among others. The above literature materials were majorly focusing on various issues and challenges that women were facing at the time such as discrimination, role of women in the society, gender inequality and women education among others as identified by Berhrendt (p243). Through having formal education, marks the rise of women in these communities at the time.

With the advantage of formal education just like their counterparts, women were entitled to vie for higher political seats such as women representatives. In the process, the government considered women challenges and issues affecting them. They also had the opportunity to elect their leaders without relying on their husbands or other male politicians decisions. Similarly, with proper education, most women also opt for higher ranked jobs such as organizational managers in order to provide better provisions to their families. Therefore, some of the women became breadwinners to their families, a position that was mostly held by men before the revolution (Hammond & Nickola 222). Moreover, some of the women with formal education also earned higher wages just like med because they had same skills and experience within their areas of specialization. This also contributed to the emergence of gender equality.

Having formal education also helped in proper distribution of labor among families. Before the revolution, women performed most of the chores. For instance, women were responsible for taking care of their children, cooking and cleanliness. However, because they were also involved in similar jobs as their husbands, they shared these chores among the family members. For instance, men were also responsible for taking care of their children just as their women would do (Shulman & Connolly 29). Additionally, rules and regulations that govern women operations changes as compared before the revolution. For instance, some of the norms that control ownership changed. Therefore, women were also entitled to inheritance of properties such as land and their clothes among others.

Similarly, legislations were also changed to suit women demands towards ensuring gender equality. For instance, same rules and regulations were used to control the operations of both men and women. This was an improvement from the previous rules that were used before the revolution. For instance, before the revolution, charges against women were harsh than chargers against men as men were enjoying many privileges. Before revolution, women who were found to have been killed their husbands were burnt alive, which was more painful experience than men with similar offences who were to be hug (Dolan 176). However, after the French Revolution, both suffer similar consequences in the presence of murder cases. For instance, both men and women who involved in murder cases were hug.

Likewise, through formal education that were offered to women after the revolution, helped many of the women in the region to become familiar with other freedoms such as freedom of movement, freedom of worship and freedom of ownership among others. This created a society where both members of the society participate towards social, economic, political and financial development (Berhrendt 174). As a result, many of the communities became developed as compared to the past before the revolution. Therefore, education became a very important tool towards the realization and development of the gender equality within the Roman Empire and other societies globally.

Conclusion

            During the colonial period, women suffered due to lack bad leadership that were offered by the current government by then. For instance, these leaders failed to enact better rules and regulations that were against various challenges faced by women at the time such as discrimination, gender inequality, and wife battering. Moreover, women lacked formal education as they were barred from receiving better education, which were offered to men. Therefore, women lagged behind in terms of development and exposure. Additionally, these leaders failed to enact better rules and regulations that provide equal rights and freedom to all people. In the contrary, the available rules only favored men than women. For instance, women were not allowed to vote but were expect to adhere rules and regulations enacted by men elected leaders.

Because of the above impacts of bad leadership, it results to poor development and bad relations among members of the affected societies. Therefore, such practices should be avoided for better development among societies to be achieved. Similarly, leaders should ensure that they provide better leadership that promotes gender equality and discourages discrimination among women, as they remain part of the development plans. Therefore, bad leadership practices should be avoided completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Berhrendt, Stephen, C. British Women Poets and the Romantic Writing Community. Maryland: JHU Press. Print.

Dolan, Elizabeth, A. Seeing Suffering in Women’s Literature of the Romantic Era. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. Print.

Hammond, Mathew, D & Nickola, C. “When relationships do not live up to benevolent: Women’s benevolent sexism sensitivity to relationship problems.” European Journal of Social Psychology 43.3 (2013): 212-223. Print.

Shulman, Shmuel & Connolly, Jennifer. “The Challenges of Romantic Relationships in Emerging Adulthood Reconceptualization of the Field.” Merging Adulthood 1.1 (2013): 27-39. Print.