The history and historical development of civilizations pose great challenges to mankind and relations between people and society. It all began with the idea that human beings, by their very nature, have rights. The man said the classical liberals, are born into a state of natural freedom, and his rights to life, liberty, and property may be limited by governments only when his exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of others (Spielvogel 2004). The greatest challenge facing Western Civilization today is gender inequalities and the low position of women in society.
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Gender inequality is the most terrible process which has deep roots and goes back to primeval times. But what about the rights of women? Aren’t they human beings also? Historically, the woman was placed at a legal and social disadvantage and usually not educated to develop her true talents. But these did flower when circumstances permitted and were demonstrated in “female authorship” and whenever men and women had marriages that rose above household partnership to intellectual companionship and joint spiritual pursuits. The fact that alone among the animal kingdom, women are supported by men has distorted the way in which women have developed. Cott (1989) dissects the contention that women earn “partnership” with their husbands by the unpaid work they do, pointing out that no man divides his income with a paid housekeeper, even though she may free him to earn his living. Males have become more human than females have because they have interests in “industry, commerce, science, manufacture, government, art, religion (Cott 1989).
The challenge is that modern society speaks about freedom and human rights, democracy, and liberty but supports the oppression of women at home and at work. Women have had to concentrate on their sexual role and on a role as nonproductive consumers. Fortunately, these tendencies are checked by heredity, Only recently, in 1898, has the rise of a group of working women who earn a wage begun to change this aspect of society, which has had centuries to pit the instinct of self-preservation (which in all species requires independent action) against the instinct of race preservation (which in all species develops sexual differentiation of certain organs and functions) (Evans 1980). Migrating birds or cattle cannot have a “weaker sex,” she points out (Evans 1980). The human race’s overemphasis on sex relationships is responsible for the rise of prostitution, which is merely another expression of the emphasis women must put on the economic value of their sexual functions. Evans examines in some detail the legal implications of the marriage contract and their injustice; addresses the limitations on women’s activities, including their inability to vote; and outlines the ways in which equality of the sexes would benefit society (Cott 1989).
It is not easy to change this situation and century-old prejudices, but society and the world, in general, should reevaluate the position of women and level gender differences. Since the subjection of women contradicts the liberal philosophy of merit, the true equality of women in the home would mean that a child would “for the first time in man’s existence on earth, be trained in the way he should go,” rather than being told to respect others by a mother not respected as an equal. The competition of women in occupations would double “the mass of mental faculties available for the higher service of humanity” (Cott 1989, p. 29). Human beings like other species are affected by their environment, but they are also uniquely affected by social conditions. The duty of states and communities is to restructure social institutions and involve men in housing and childbearing activities. As the aims of the movement shift, from stress on individualism, social cooperation, and negative rights to stress on collectivism (not just any “collective” action, but in the sense of using government power) and positive rights.
Cott, N. F. (1989). The Grounding of Modern Feminism. Yale University Press, 1989.
Evans, S. (1980) Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left. Vintage.
Spielvogel, J.J. (2004). Western Civilization: A Brief History, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Publishing.
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