Sunday, March 25, 2007

Feminist Ideals and the Roles of Society

Ford Madox Ford was brought up in a time where women were merely objects of men’s satisfaction; they were to cook, clean and produce the man’s children while the men were the apparent “bread winners”. When Ford states, “That’s been the first evil effects of giving women the vote!” he is clearly illustrating the disgust he felt as a result of women achieving the right to vote. However, I intend to argue that this is merely a result of the society Ford was brought up in. This ideal that Ford illustrates would have been a common one during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Women were not educated in the same way that men were; however, many of them took it upon themselves to ensure that they were. It was a common understanding that women were not as strong, or as intelligent as men. As a result of this, women did not have the same opportunities, the same rights, or the same privileges that men at this time had. The late nineteenth and early twentieth century proved to be a key time for women and the Feminist Movement. Women began to achieve higher status as a result of the events that were taking place, mainly, that of World War One. It can be understood why men like Ford would have “mixed feelings” with respect to what was transpiring.

Men like Ford were used to working for a living and providing for their families while the women were left to tend to the home. As a result of WWI and the fact that millions of men were shipped off, the roles of women drastically changed. Women were given the right to vote, and in many cases, began to work because with their husband’s off fighting in a battle, someone needed to provide for the family. Furthermore, there were limited men to work, so factories and plants needed to hire women in order to continue business. This proved to be great for the women of this time and even after the war, many women continued to work. Furthermore, many of the beliefs that had been falsely achieved began to disappear as women appeared to be much more competent than they were once considered. They could perform many of the same duties that men did and this was a major eye opener for people at this time. Women’s rights and the Feminist Movement continued to prosper and the status of women grew throughout the years to follow.

One can see why men like Ford would have the ideologies that they did. They felt threatened by what was taking place and they liked things the way they were. What was taking place was drastically changing what they were used to and accustomed to. Men at this time enjoyed being the “bread winners” and enjoyed being considered the dominant sex. The reason why we find such ideals so appalling is a result of the society we live in. Men are no longer the dominant sex. Women work for a living and provide for themselves and in many cases, provide for their families. They have many of the same rights that men have and though it is still not quite equal, it continues to grow. World War One proved to play a key role in the development of women’s rights and privileges in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and as a result, many men of this time would have felt the same way that Ford illustrates in his work “Some Do Not”.

Rob Shearar

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