Women In The 21st Century Essay

The Twenty First Century Woman Essay

For a long time women were seen as being either a mother, a wife, or both. A woman who decided she wanted a role outside the home was looked upon as “consciously [choosing] a life” which was unacceptable to most people (Harris, McNamara 173). The wife or mother was bound to the house. Her main jobs were to make sure the house was cleaned, the children were fed, and her husband was happy (Brady 361). She never contemplated on doing anything more. She had no place in the outside world. It was not that the female was dumb, but that she was not up to date when it came to the outside world. For decades the woman was oppressed and seen as inferior compared to men. Their so called delicate bodies were only built for child bearing. Their minds were not fluid enough to retain the instruction that went along with the processes that lead to working. To the men, women were not anatomically built for such pressures. But the twenty-first century women had something to prove.
Until recently women were not allowed to be doctors (Stone 1). In the medical field women usually would not surpass being a nurse, and that itself was a hard position for a women to withhold. With the recent push from women to get out the house and into the work place there has been a slight change to the game plan. More and more women are pushing their minds a bit harder to not only enter medical school but finishing it as their class leaders. Females are intrigued by the hard work, the mind blowing advances in the health system, and the body itself. With this more women are actually becoming successful doctors.
With constant rejection, many young women began to want to change the world and were determined to do it. They wanted to make a difference. The biggest issue was women began to want to be examined by other women (Chung 25). They felt uncomfortable with men examining their body. Who knows a woman’s body better than a women? With that knowledge all it would take was for one woman to take a stance and work hard at becoming a doctor so that she would not only help make women patients feel more comfortable, but show women that they too had a chance to be a doctor just as she did. Unfortunately for a while any women that attempted to meet and surpass the criteria for going to medical school were looked to as jokes. The men thought it was hilarious to see a woman that not only believed in herself but also thought she had the ability to be something more than a mother or a wife (Chung 26).What many men did not understand was that the women’s mind was not much different than their own. Women are actually able to empathize with their patients on a much stronger level which allows the patient to feel more secured with their life in a female doctors hands, and in hectic situations the female is able to keep her head on straight and make rational decisions because she knows how to control her mind in the most rushed decisions. What many did not know at that time was that just a...

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Charles R. Weldon recently donated papers from his grandmother, Anna Elzade Noyes, to the Freeport Historical Society. The donation consisted of an interesting scrapbook of clippings related to Freeport that Anna apparently put together in the 1920s and’30s, along with copies of a few papers related to her graduation from Freeport High School in 1897. One of these is an essay, “The Women of the Present Century,” which she wrote to be read at her graduation. It opens with the following lines:

The women of the present century compared with those of the past, differ in a great many ways. Those of today have more advantages for getting an education, and good situations in life, than those of other times.

A 21st-century reader cannot help but be a bit startled by this statement. After all, in 1897 we were still more than two decades from women winning the right to vote. By today’s standards, there were not many doors open to women who wished to enter the workplace, and very few were found working in the sort of professional positions that men occupied.

Perhaps the phrase “by today’s standards” is one key to understanding the context of Anna’s essay. Certainly there were female teachers, urban working class women might be found in factories, and women living on farms generally made their own contributions to the family’s economic well-being. In fact, as early as 1870, according to the US Census, women made up just under 15% of the total work force. One-third of factory workers were women, and two-thirds of teachers were female. According to figures from 1890, women made up just over 17% of the total work force, a modest increase over the twenty year period. Is this as a small number, given the fact that women make up roughly half of the population, or a large number, given the social reality of the times?

For Anna, it seems, the answer to that question was quite clear. She saw gains that women made during the latter part of the 19th century, and viewed these advances as examples to follow. According to Anna it was “no longer unusual for women to study law,” and she wrote that “we ought to know especially about the women of business, because they encourage others [to succeed] … Many think that women who are thrown upon their own resources are not practical, and that they waste their time over visionary schemes.”

She cites the Women’s Christian Temperance Union as a way that women were having an impact on society, and points out that “it is exceedingly difficult for these young women, partaking of the benefits and pleasures of such organizations, to realize that there was a time when organization among women was a thing unknown, and that it was even debated, on whether a woman had a right to give her opinion, or be heard.” She admired Miss Frances Willard, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, for the “long weary struggle” she endured before her effort met with success.

Anna was writing in 1897, at a time when the suffragette movement had been active for decades, and would continue to be so for several more decades. On the subject of voting rights for women, she commented that “it is hoped that the time will come when they may have that privilege,” and she expressed an optimistic attitude for the future, ending her essay by saying “let us hope in years to come that there will be a constant improvement in the line of woman’s work, and that her influence may be felt in a way that will be a help to others.”

In 1900, three years after graduating from Freeport high School, Anna was married to William A. Noyes in Portland. Although it would take some time, she lived to be able to vote, and see some of the changes she hoped for in her high school essay. She died in Plainville, Connecticut in 1951, survived by her husband, two children, and four grandchildren, in addition to two sisters and a number of nieces and nephews. In addition to raising a family, she had lived up to her ideals of service, having been a member of the Plainville Grange for 25 years, serving as the organization’s Chaplain for 22 of those years, as well as being a member of the order of the Eastern Star.


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