• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Role of Activist Agences in Shaping the course of Women’s History

Extracts from this document...


The Role of Activist Agences in Shaping the course of Women's History There is no doubt that activists and activist agencies have played a role in shaping the history of women, and a large amount of the historiography of women's history has given excessive attention to the role of activists. Popular history tends to take a Rankeian view of events, focussing instead on the role of the individual, rather than the deeper underlying social, political and economic causes of history. The traditional Liberal view of the struggle to obtain the franchise is that the suffragettes, via their militant tactics and under the leadership of the Pankhursts ensured that women were granted the vote, and that this solved all the injustices between the sexes. This simplistic view of events however ignores the wider changes that were taking place in the economy and society, as well as placing a larger emphasis on certain activists, rather than looking at the broader picture. The militant activities of the suffragettes were never sufficient enough to frighten the government or the wider public into extending the franchise to women, their acts of violence towards property were often small scale and petty. It also ignores the role of the suffragists led by Millicent Fawcett, who were far more significant in obtaining the vote for women, for they were the ones who reasoned rather than fought with men and showed that women could deal with political matters. ...read more.


This is because even in well paid jobs, such as banking and insuarance, women were restricted from progressing high up the career ladder by having to take maternity leave to bring up children, if they were even considered for promotion in the first place as many of these companies were strongly male dominated. The Women's self image has changed a great deal since the beginning of the c20, when women saw themselves primarily as mothers and wives, though in working class environments this attitude persisted for a lot longer than in wealthier and better educated social groups. Sue Sharpe found in her 1976 book "Just like a girl" that working class girls in Ealing in the 70's still expected to marry a husband who would take care of them financially and that they would be responsible for childrearing. Women's level of deference has decreased greatly from the beginning of the century when they were almost voiceless, to the present day where girls have become at least as vocal as men, if not more. Deep running social trends such as this cannot be changed over night by activists and this lack of change in the working classes could be interpreted as evidence that women's liberation movements have largely been for and by the white middle classes Many women in the 1970s though who had started to redefine their own roles started to live in new ways, such as communally with other women. ...read more.


Men still continue to run the top jobs, with Angela Coyle finding in 1988 that at the very top of companies women made up only 5%. Until 1997 the maximum proportion of women MPs had been approximately 10%. This number was only increased in the 1997 election when Tony Blair supported positive discrimination by adopting an "Emily's List" policy. This meant that in safe seats women be put forward as candidates, the result was >100 women MPs, however this policy was later declared illegal. As women are still expected to take care of children, maternity leave and career breaks for the bringing up of children harm their promotion prospects, resulting in a "glass ceiling" that often needs the sacrifice of family life in order to break through. Although women appeared to become visible in the media, this is often because the ones who did make it to the top were so unusual that they were worthy of media interest. Solutions to the problem are hard, some feminists argue that the only way the position of women will change is if men think differently too, however this is idealistic to say the least. Bruley reaches the conclusion that women are still disadvantaged because although women now have the franchise and careers, they still have to bear the brunt of childbearing, caring and networking. ?? ?? ?? ?? Chris Kenny Page 1 11/04/2007 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Approaches to History: Sociology and History

    He had rejected the idea of sociology and rejected the idea of regarding himself as a sociologist. Yet it is testimony to the force and pervasiveness of his arguments that sociology has sought to incorporate his theory as part of the 'sociological tradition' and he is now seen as one of the textbook thinkers on the subject.

  2. Pakistani Women In a Changing Society.

    Under these circumstances the activists and the leadership inevitably comes from women of better off families especially those whom can afford servants and cars, mainly professional women in their thirties. But it needs to be emphasised that they, nevertheless, articulate by and large attitudes and demands that affect all working women.

  1. Why did Plato think women could be legitimate political guardians?

    male guardians and fight for their state and protect it equally as well as the men would, their sturdier children would also be bought along so they could begin they're education in warfare at the same time as acting as apprentices to the adult guardians they would later become.

  2. Examine strategies adopted by the directors studied on the course to depict marginality in ...

    La Haine is centred on a group of friends, all three of a different race, religion and ethnicity. They have been excluded by society and made to become the margins of society because of their accent, their geographical and economic isolation.

  1. "Compare the presentation of the exploitation of women in "Memoirs of a Geisha" by ...

    "I was too confused and upset to understand... I would have plunged in anguish through the floor of the train if I could have." Adeline was punished for her excellence in schools She was deemed a show off by her hateful stepmother Niang, virtually preventing any praise from her father.

  2. Do a detailed critical analysis of the opening of Coetzee's Foe, paying particular attention ...

    It becomes slightly more surreal and raising many questions as to whether Foe exists or is a creation of Susan's or whether Susan is a creation of his. The final scene is set in a room and under water.

  1. The Changing Role and Status of Women since 1945.

    However source C disagrees with source A as it suggests that it was a burden for women to leave their house jobs and work in factories, and source A says that women like the new opportunities offered to them during the war, 'Your 'after the war dream' is coming true...

  2. Gender and body image - Looking at women and men through the life course.

    In the early nineteenth century working class children would be used in working class factories for cheap labour. Boys would follow the men with physical work while girls were sold for prostitution. Girls where not seen to have many uses apart from their bodies or domesticity uses.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work