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Women's Rights In Great Britain Essay

1305 words - 6 pages

Introduction +thesis
Women’s Rights was one of the major social changes that began to gain attention in the media and to peak in active activity during the twentieth century. Women’s rights had been in the making since the eighteenth century. Some of the earliest documented words for Women’s rights appeared in a letter to John Adams by his wife Abigail Adams. During the making of the United States constitution (from the eighteenth to nineteenth century), she wrote to her husband and asked him to “remember the ladies”. The first state to permit women to vote in the United States (before the nineteenth amendment was drafted) was New Jersey. However, there were restrictions upon who was eligible to vote. Some of these restrictions included being a widow, being wealthy (owning property) and they had to be over the age of thirty.
In complete contrast to this early beginnings of women’s rights in the United States, Great Britain would take about another two centuries for women to begin gaining some legal rights. Before the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century, there had been slow progress towards the enfranchisement of women. Some of these rights came into existence for very different reasons. Most of them had to do with the way that women were treated in the home and dealing with domestic issues during the Victorian age (1837-1901). Women were not permitted to seek a legal divorce from their husbands on any basis. However when their husbands gave them the divorce, they would lose their children, their familial wealth and any property that they owned. In many cases, husband and wife would often separate in lieu of getting a divorce because it was considered scandalous in society’s eyes to divorce your spouse. When husbands divorced their wives, it was on the basis that she had “committed adultery” or that she was “insane”. In addition, when a woman earned wages, they would have to hand it over to their fathers or husbands. Women were even restricted in what occupations that they could hold. For example if a woman managed to get a book published, they would have to publish it under a male pseudonym and their royalties would have to handed over to their husbands or whomever was responsible for them. They were restricted to occupations that dealt with childcare and minor education positions. Some of the few jobs that women could hold without other is batting an eyelash were governess, schoolteacher, companions, a lady’s maid and as stated before an authoress.
It was not until 1839 that mothers were permitted to have custody of their children after a divorce but with one catch. The children had to be younger than seven to remain with their mothers were. In 1857, women were permitted to get a divorce from their husbands on the basis that the husband was abusing her. In 1870, women were granted the right to keep their wages earned from their jobs. In 1891, women were granted the right to live separately from their husbands while...

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