2.b.19 – The emancipation of women is a consequence of industrialization?

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February 6, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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The emancipation of women is a consequence of industrialization?

To the liberation of the working class from economic oppression followed the emancipation of women. If the scientific exploitation of the workers was a recent phenomenon, the social oppression of women was a far more ancient tradition and therefore deeply rooted in culture; a culture related to agricultural civilization in which, in general, women had social and working roles well separated from those of men. In industry, however, women were workers like men, although paid less, and once the idea that workers could and had to claim rights through class struggle spread, by analogy was simple for women to identify themselves in a new class that was exploited that had to fight to be emancipated. The analogy was simple, but very difficult to be implemented: it had to  stop a millenary tradition of a male-dominated culture.
During the French Revolution yet, following the new principles of freedom, equality and brotherhood, in 1792 Olympia de Gouges wrote the Declaration of Rights of Women and Citizen “, but the new social system based on these principles, obviously not revolutionary enough to extend even to women, made sure that the author of the landmark of Women’s Empowerment was promptly guillotined. The process of empowerment of women is still ongoing as there is no country in the world that treats women just like men, although the western states, at least on paper, recognize equal rights. The same also applies to other types of discrimination such as racial and religious.
Today, in Italy, smoking in public or wear trousers is for a woman absolutely normal and is not conceivable a different attitude, but we must remember that in 1965 these behaviors were still regarded as transgressive.
Even the right to vote for women is a more recent conquest than people might think: in Italy for example, that right has been recognized since the end of the second World war, in the very civil Switzerland only in the seventies.
To the right to vote followed the approval of two other fundamental rights: the right to education, which only began to assert itself in late nineteenth century, and the right to the economic independence, which spread only in the second decade of the 20th century. Previously, universities were totally closed to women and wages, although earned by the women workers for their job, were managed by the men of the family, first by fathers and then by husbands.
The crumbling of traditions, so deeply rooted in millennia, in a few generations must teach us how a new culture, even deeply innovative, can spread quickly and make immediate consequences; it is up to us to believe in the possibility of a change, to work together for its implementation and to make sure that that the effect are beneficial for the individuals and the community.

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