A Man's World? / by kevin murray

Is this still a man's world?  Well, truth be told, I'm hard-pressed to imagine that times have ever been better for females in the USA.  Sure, females apparently still aren't paid at the same compensation rate as men which is a disgrace but employment opportunities and economic freedom have seldom seen these heights for females but alas, it hasn't always been this way.

Back in colonial times, it was the family unit that was paramount, and not the individual.  Additionally, as is common knowledge, this was a patriarchal society.  The woman was subordinate to the man, but in respect to that subordination, it was the man's responsibility to provide for his wife and their family. 

The rule of law in colonial times was "Common Law".  Common meaning not so much "common sense" but in that the law was "one law" which was common to all peoples and therefore consistent in all senses.  It was this "Common Law" that families had to respond to or answer to as one.  Therefore, the man of the house could very well be held responsible for his wives' behavior as well as his children and be subject to fines or public censure.

For instance, whereas, in modern America we are intimately familiar with our 1st Amendment Rights and therefore our Freedom of Speech, that right didn't exist back in colonial times.  Saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time could get you accused and convicted of slander and the punishment for such was the infamous "cucking/ducking stool" depending on whether your stay in the stool was merely for public humiliation or for public dipping into actual water.  In either case the chastisement was embarrassing, humiliating, and could in some cases be deadly as in an unintentional drowning.

Changes became to become afoot when the Continental Congress came together in 1776.  Abigail Adams, the wife of our future 2nd President wrote to her husband: "I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."

While it took many years for that revolution on behalf of women to develop, it did indeed come, step by step, precept upon precept.  In the 1850s public schooling which had been advocated by President Thomas Jefferson began to come into fruition.  Along with this, women were given the opportunity to work in the factory.  This was still an agrarian society in which men were reluctant to leave their farms and the freedom of being their own boss, whereas women saw this as not only an opportunity but also a chance to make some money.

The Civil War and the fight against slavery brought more women to the forefront of the fight for equality.  The 1850s and 60s were the beginning of the women's suffrage movement in which in 1890 the state of Wyoming granted women suffrage. Slowly but surely other states came along and they too granted suffrage to women before finally the passage of the 19th Amendment was accomplished and ratified in 1920.

Now, nearly a century later, women in America have really come into their own.  For instance, more women than men attend college, and more women than men graduate college.  This has been the case since 1985 and the gap between men and women is continually growing. 

As for crime, in 2008, it was estimated that one out of 18 men, and one out of 89 women were in Correctional Control (prison, jail, probation, or parole).

In a modern world in which brawn is far less necessary and the mind and discernment thereof has become paramount, males appear to be the lesser sex.