How can freedom be defined accurately if one has never truly experienced it? How can one gain a perspective on one’s position in life if the opportunity has not been afforded to them, or outright refused to them by the society in which they live? For centuries women have remained nothing more than the child-bearing, subservient property of men.
Most accepted this role because they knew no other. Their sub-human existence was met with silent acceptance. At what point would this seemingly endless period of oppression end? At what point would self-discovery yield self-liberation?For many it began to dissolve with progressively sweeter tastes of freedom. Slowly, the shroud of circumstantial conformity began to fade, and when expectations were met with disapproval and downright objection, the cause and the fight for women’s freedom was born.
Up to this time men were the sole purveyors of strength, power and established self-sufficiency. They were everything that women weren’t and never could beâ€”never allowed to be. Men were dominating not only to their women, but to one another as well. Be it on the battlefield, the workplace or in their own home, men, especially white men, were the select breed of humanity.
This was not just perceived, but rather believed and accepted to be the only way of existence for those on all levels. As the old saying goes, “Nothing changes if nothing changes. ” So the cause for the radical shift in ideals was born with the abolitionist movement and soon paved the way for the anti-war and women’s freedom movements in the years to come. It broke the ice for a deluge of new ideas and a general thawing out of the altogether rigid perspective that had been in place since man killed his first wooly mammoth and brought it home for his wife to cook.
Women of today experience on a day to day basis what is known as a sexual caste system, which is a subtle and pervasive undertone that lurks at every job site, kitchen, government organizations and even in the bedroom. It is a passive-aggressive approach to limit women’s rights and hinder their progress in an ever-changing, modern world. What is viewed as commonplace by everyone else is viewed as an atrocity by those who are oppressed biologically, emotionally and socially by their own oppressors. What makes women unique is that they are the only oppressed group whose lives are bound by all three aspects.
Men were expected to be the breadwinners of the house and because of their status as the sole earner; they had all the perks that came along with this deluded definition of manhood. Women had none of these and were commonly viewed as indecisive, weak and incapable of intelligent thought. They needed to be protected and could not be expected to fend for themselves. They were consistently denied the rights that should have been theirs from the very beginning.
With this attitude of sexism stacked overwhelmingly against them it seemed as if they were fighting a war that could never be won.Just how does one go about erasing a piece of cultural superiority from the minds of a machine that was dominating the world ruled by men? Voting rights was just the first battle in the war that raged on throughout the mid to late 20th century. Women, in all actuality, are only different from men in a few, small, biological differences that carry little weight when compared to the equality that each of their roles in society should dictate. Women in the freedom movement lobbied for sweeping changes to the way in which their role in society was viewed.
A new light needed to be shed upon the definitions of the traits “masculine” and “feminine. Women wanted to divorce themselves from the idea that they could be owned and directed by their male superiors.They wanted to end the oppression that had been inflicted upon them for the last millennia. They wanted to complete that balancing act that nature had originally intended for them.
They won their freedom one small step at a time through picketing the government, diplomatically persuading leaders to pass laws in their favor and by overcoming the odds by adding more to their numbers so that their initial whisper for change eventually became a thunderous demand for righteousness.Still, the odds have been stacked against them by the very institutions which proclaim spirituality and the equality under the eyes of God. Religious sects were more apt to hold on to the ideals that had been dictated to them out of their respective scripture for centuries. Whether it was the Bible, the Koran, the Torah or the Baghavad Ghita, women had remained low on the list of priorities, save for the act of procreation, since the beginning of time.
To varying degrees, the ethnic background for most dictated what class they fell into and thus separated them from the ultimate goal of freedom.Sexuality divided women even further in respect to their relationship with men. Some strived for a traditionally happy home life, sharing the same freedoms as their husbands. Others however, adopted scathingly vicious generalizations of men and instead of seeking equality among the sexes, sought after achieving a switch in polarity.
As time progressed, women began to transcend the class and racial boundaries and unite to fight for their common cause. They began to realize that the very demarcations that separated them demographically, racially and sexually invariably stunted their ability to stride toward liberation.The women’s freedom movement was a fight well fought, but with leftover skirmishes still left at the end of the 20th century and spilling over into the 21st. Women gained their voting rights, equal employment opportunities, elusive positions in government and, for the most part, marginally balanced positions in society.
So what more could they want? For starters, the caste system has failed to be completely squelched. Numerous pockets of progressively liberal movements have become cemented as a part of society all over the United States.Certain parts of this country are still plagued by the stigma that women are, and always will be, inferior. As long as people of the so-called “old-school” hold some sort of position of power and no one speaks out against injustices, these acts of male supremacy will go unnoticed.
Fortunately, the difference today is that there is now an awareness of these injustices and they will be dealt with swiftly by the powers that be. This was made possibly only be those brave and courageous freedom fighters of the last century.