Women in the Enlightenment Essay
The status of women during the enlightenment didn’t change for the better as most may think but instead surprisingly degraded. Economically, laws were produced that restricted all women’s rights to own property and run businesses. Comparing the 1600s and the 1800s, it was obvious businesses owned by women in London had dropped to less than ten percent of the original number. The Enlightenment pressured the change for education but the quality for women education also degraded.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, education was made only available for the wealthiest women but they were ensured the same level of education as men. The Enlightenment stressed the importance of education for moral development and the ideal operation of society. All women of upper and middle classes were offered education in deorative accomplishments but subjects such as philosophy and science were closed off. Enlightenment thinkers thought there subjects were of intellectual disciplines; only meant for men.
During those times, family economies were essential for survival so if someone lived individually out on their own, they were regared as a beggar, criminal, or something worse. Women were productive laboureres within family economies. Very few women in society then were able to marry without a dowry. If a woman had a family, she would have help to pay for her dowry. If not, often she would have to save up a dowry of her own. The Enlightenment was not a time where women could enjoy and be enlightened by things such as philosophy. Women then were too busy trying to survive.