19th Century women perception

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The nineteenth century is also known as the Victorian period, after the English queen who lived for 60 years. This was the time of the Industrial Revolution. It was at this moment that the women desired more. For years, women were exploited and compelled to live private lives while men were forced to live public ones. Women had to do household duties, and they were encouraged to read and learn as long as the tasks did not impair their ability to perform their household duties efficiently. Men were allowed to follow their professions and live their lives in public. According to Barbara Welber (1820-1860), he outlines the four key features of real womanhood in his work “the cult of true womanhood”. These four characteristics are; piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. Therefore women were not supposed to be engaged in any development field outside their homes. In short story “The Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner depicts of the limited life that Miss Emily is forced to live in the society. In the story, Miss Emily is said to have been giving China painting lessons, but she later stopped, probably due to discrimination. Generally women were denied from engaging themselves in any field apart from household activities (Faulkner, William).

Men and women were viewed as to different spheres. Men were perceived as physically healthy and rational. Therefore their roles were outside the home. However, women were considered as physically weak being and have a high moral standard, hence the need to stay at home and perform household chores (Ushistory.org).


Over the years, many scientist, both men, and women have made a great impact on the development of science. However, most of the people are common with the works of a male scientist such as Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei. Most people do not recognize the great contribution of women to the field of science, for example, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Garrett, and Ana de Osorio (Clark University).

During the revolutionary period, women took part in making scientific discoveries such as Ana de Osorio discovered the medicinal properties of the bark of quinine tree. Laura Bassi joined the faculty of the University of Bologna, hence becoming the first woman to teach at a European University. However, the family members of these great women were against their idea of pursuing their career (Clark University).

War craft

Over the years, the acceptance into the USA army has become more and more common as days go by. However in the 19 century war was termed as a man job. Most of the women had their jobs in the household. Some women decided to join the army so as to the serve the nation. They had to this under false pretence that is they had to use false identities so that they could not be identified by others. In November 15, 1866, Cathy Williams joined the thirty-eighth Unites States infantry (Saunders, Nicky).


The only school that women were allowed to visit was the boarding school or been taught by a resident governess at their homes. The women had to gain knowledge so that they could portray feminism traits. This would greatly help them in attracting men who would marry them. Education helped the women not to be termed as the” blue-stocking” which meant been off-putting and unfeminine in an attempt to challenge means superiority. So as to ensure that women did not commitment their lives to education, some doctors came up with scientific claims that supported the discriminatory argue that women should not indulge into too many studies (Kimberly Ragek). One of this scientific myth proposed by the doctors was that too much education would destroy the ovaries, thus turning beautiful ladies into dried old women. Even after some colleges such as Cambridge had opened doors, families did not want to take their daughters to school in the fear that they would not get any man to marry them (Kimberly Ragek).


During the 19th century, most doctors made the assumption that healthy straight women did not portray and sexual desire and that only the strange and unhealthy women described such features. Young girls were not supposed to be found in the company of men as this would be perceived as sexual desire. Women were expected to be drawn to marriage because they were interested in being mothers and not in the fact that they need their emotional feelings to be fulfilled. Science was once used again to support this theorem of women been sexual dead. A famous doctor by the name William Acton stated that luckily most of the women do have any sexual feeling (Fortin, Elaine).

Men`s sexual desire was acknowledged. However, the doctors advised against masturbation or having too much sex as this would result in the deterioration of health, hence eventually destroying one`s life.

Marriage for the ladies occurred during their early-mid 20s. The men who led them were supposed to be five years older than them and were also meant to be financial stable in the sense that the man could provide for both the wife and future children. When away from home, married men would go to streets with red lights and find a prostitute and pay for sex. Unfortunately, sometimes this resulted in the husband acquiring syphilis which he later spread to his wife.

On the other hand, married women were not supposed to talk to any married man, unless the man had his wife nearby. Married women were also not allowed to acquire higher education or do any professional work. Such restriction in life resulted in women throwing tantrums once in a while. Great women such as Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Garrett threw tantrums due to the many restrictions in life. They resorted into withdrawing from family members to be alone (Encyclopedia of World Bioagraphy).

However later on, in the 1890s, a Scottish physician conducted a study to prove that in fact, women had sexual desires. He surveyed over 190 women, and 152 of them admitted as to having sexual desires (Clark University).

Sleeping with prostitutes happened just before the man married and sometimes after marriage. Prostitution was prominent. The prostitutes provided sexual satisfaction to the men in exchange for cash. This sex activity leads to the rapid spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The doctors were concerned due to the transmission of the disease. This resulted into the adoption of the Contagious Disease Act. The prostitutes a were first screened for any infects and if clean they would be free to continue with their activities. However if a prostitute was found to be infected, she was taken to forcefully taken to a lock hospital where she was treated until she got cured.


Fashion is supposed to compliment one’s sexuality and control. During the 19th century, women wore long skirts which had petticoats and later they had crinolines. This made it hard for the woman to dress and it was time-consuming. Later on, corsets were developed. However, the corsets affected the breathing, resulting into fainting in the case of excitement (Fortin, Elaine).


The women were not supposed to be engaged in any professional work. Married women faced the most restrictions on professional working matters. The poor class women were to be employed house helps, factory workers and servants. In some cases, the attractive girls would help their families in managing the family business. However, they were not to be too involved in the firm. Middle-class girls were supposed to be engaged in reading activities (Kimberly Ragek).

Work Cited

Clark University. “Women In Scientific Revolutionary Era”. Web.Clark.Edu/, 2017, http://web.clark.edu/afisher/HIST253/lecture_text/WomenScientificRevolution.pdf.

Encyclopedia of World Biography. “Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Facts, Information, Pictures | Encyclopedia.Com Articles About Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.” Encyclopedia.Com, 2004, http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/medicine/medicine-biographies/elizabeth-garrett-anderson.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose For Emily”. Xroads.Virginia.Edu, 1930, http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.html.

Fortin, Elaine. “Early Nineteenth-Century Attitudes Toward Women And Their Roles As Represented By Literature Popular In Worcester, Massachusetts | Teach US History.” Teachushistory.Org, 2017, http://www.teachushistory.org/detocqueville-visit-united-states/articles/early-19th-century-attitudes-toward-women-their-roles.

Kimberly Ragek. “Women In The Nineteenth Century”. Www2.Ivcc.Edu, 2017, http://www2.ivcc.edu/gen2002/women_in_the_nineteenth_century.htm.

Ushistory.org. “The Emergence Of “Women’s Sphere” [Ushistory.Org].” Ushistory.Org, 2016, http://www.ushistory.org/us/25e.asp.

Saunders, Nicky. “Women Warriors In The 19Th Century : Provided By Lothene Experimental Archaeology”. Lothene.Org, 2017, http://www.lothene.org/women/women19.html.

Ushistory.org. “The Emergence Of “Women’s Sphere” [Ushistory.Org]”. Ushistory.Org, 2016, http://www.ushistory.org/us/25e.asp.

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