Women’s Equality in Marriage Analytic essay.
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Women’s Equality in Marriage
Gender inequality has a long history in the world where men have dominated society in various roles including marriage. As a result, various organized women’s right movements were formed by women activists in the quest for equality in marriage. This paper analysis the contributions made by several actors, who spent their lives in the fight for women’s equality in marriages.
Being an American social activist, Elizabeth Stanton was one of the figures, who led the early women’s rights movement. In her book, “On Marriage and Divorce” she presented her petition for the rights of women in marriage equality. She strove for political, legal, and industrial equality of women for liberal divorce laws when she spoke on topics such as maternity, child rearing, and woman’s crusade against liquor. In addition, she challenged her audiences by telling them to examine how inequality had distorted the American marriage society while providing several considerations on how equality could be achieved. She challenged the legislators on their thoughts legal marriage, saying that they ought to pass laws that forbid the drunkards from marrying. She argued that the divorce law encouraged the drunkenness to be a legal plea for divorce. As a result of breaking the marriage contract, the wife and innocent children became a victim of brutality and had no right in justice (Ann Russo p.88).
Similarly, Lucy stone and Henry Blackwell championed marriage protests in United States of America in 1855. As a married a married couple, Lucy and henry acknowledged their mutual affection in marriage but asserted that they were against the then present laws of marriage. The laws assumed that the husband was injurious and unnatural superior while the women were not recognized as independent and rational being. In their marriage protest, henry and Lucy strived to enhance changes in the legal powers of marriage that invested men as superior to their wives (Higginson p.71).
They protested against such laws that gave the husband the custody of the wife’s person, as well as the exclusive control and guardianship of their children. Moreover, they were against the laws that gave a widower so much larger interest in the property of the deceased wife, than those given to the widower in case of a deceased husband. Besides, they protested for an absolute right of a woman to the product of her industry. They insisted that a woman had a right to inherit property and sue or be sued in her own name, especially when the wife was suspended during the marriage (Higginson p.71).
Additionally, Paulina Wright Davis expressed her emotions on how women were unfairly treated by their counterparts’ men, “in her Letter to Women’s Rights Conference”. Paulina Wright indicated that men and women could perform similar duties in various situations including marriage. She gave an analogy asking where Christ came from, saying that since Christ came from both a woman and God hence no man was involved. Besides, she asserted that the first woman created by God was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone; therefore, the women were wake up and fight for their equal rights similar to men. In addition, she warned the men to better let the women have their equal rights because they would be in a fix pretty soon (Pittman 29 November 2012).
Another woman who volunteered to fight for women rights in 1850s was Ernestine Rose. In 1851, she championed various women’s right convention where she challenged the existing legal system on marriages by asking, “This is the Law, but where is the Justice of it?” She pioneered the fight for women property rights in marriage to be considered in the existing laws of United States of America. She asserted that the success of marriage was contributed equally by a husband and his wife, yet the law recognized men as superior to women. She argued that all human beings, men and women, were created free and equal and hence they were both entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, yet the assumed superiority by men deprived of the women’s right and their privileges (Rose 1851).
According to Ernestine Rose, women had become victims of suffering greater penalties than men, especially when they equally disobeyed the laws. She stated a woman lost her identity when she got married since her name was merged in her husband. However, the law did not provide that the husbands could take the penalties for any violation of laws and morals committed by their wives. Furthermore, Ernestine indicated that most of the unsuccessful marriages lead to pain and suffering among women due to laws that did not accommodate the rights of women. During marriage separation, the children could not be taken from the women’s care to men since the law forbid, yet there was no justice. Besides, the women had no right to leave the property left by her deceased husband to any one belonging to her (Rose 1851).
The contribution by the above women right activists led to many successes in promoting women equality in marriage. It is clear that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except in crime. Besides, marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, which the present laws need to recognize. Therefore, married partners should always strive to protest against the radical injustice existing in the present laws, in order to enhance women equality rights in marriage.
Ann Russo, K. C. The: Radical Women’s Press of the 1850’s. Routledge, 2013, p.88
Higginson, T. W. “Marriage of Lucy Stone Under Protest,” The Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts), vol. 25, no. 18 (Whole no. 1085) (May 4, 1855), p. 71.
Pittman, A. Women’s Rights (1800-1860), on 29 November 2012. Retrieved on 2nd October from: http://prezi.com/jkqvaizocp6g/womens-rights/
Rose, E. Social Justice speeches: Speech at the National Woman’s Rights Convention. Worcester, Massachusetts, 1851. Retrieved on 2nd October from: http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/rose_nwrc.html
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