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Historypaper1 - Throughout history women have been...

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Throughout history women have been considered second class citizens. This was a major cause of much social, political, and economic unrest in the late nineteenth century. This unrest attracted attention from both men and women who wished to rectify this societal unease. Two such people are Edward Bellamy and Jane Addams. While both were critical of the plight of women, they approached a solution in very different ways. I align myself with the reform views posited by Jane Addams because I feel they allow women the more optimistic future. Edward Bellamy was critical of the plight of women because during the time when he wrote Looking Backward, women were not seen as equals in society. He could be considered smart in a way, not to mention too much of women in this ideal society because it would have made many of his prospective readers in nineteenth century uneasy. And because of this, he made a point to distinguish between the separate roles of men and women 1 . When Bellamy’s book was first published, women’s only role in society was to take care of domestic matters 2 . It is interesting to note, that women were not mentioned until much later in the book; this makes it seem that he went back and added a section about women as an afterthought. The obvious disregard of women appears to reveal his negative bias of the women’s right movement. Jane Addams, on the other hand, believed women and men should have been seen as equals from the start 3 , however, went about addressing it in a different manner than Bellamy. Instead of ignoring the importance of women in the social order, Addams seemed to discuss her ideals in a round about way. She almost certainly wished to avoid any negative appraisal that might have been associated with women speaking so frankly 1 Bellamy, Edward, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1995), p. 156. 2 Henderson, 6 February 2008. 3 Addams, Jane, Twenty Years at Hull House (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999), p. 237.
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about equal rights. And because her book was published twenty-two years after Bellamy’s and women had already begun to make slight headway in terms of moving towards equality, it did not seem as taboo for Addams to be discussing problems affecting the home-front. As a result of this movement, more and more women were going off to college 4 , and being educated about their submissive places in the man’s world in which they lived. Addams recognizing this was able to make some long-needed changes in helping to begin a women’s movement. She was unwavering in her stand for those who could not stand on their own. 5
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