Position coming together at breakfast and again at

Position of
women in the 19th century

In the 19th
century women were seen as an object. They were forced to provide their husbands with a clean home, food on the table and to
raise their children. Their husbands wouldn’t allow them to do other things
than household. Women were not given the option to go against their husbands,
because when a man and woman married, the rights of the woman were legally
given over to her husband. Even though the woman was taking care of the whole family,
she didn’t represent them, but her husband did. This placed him in control of
all property, earnings and money. Husbands used their wives as property, and
they had the rights to everything related to the women, like children, sex and
housekeeping. After a woman got married, she did not have the right anymore to
restrain her husband from having sex with her; she was owned by her husband (Wikipedia,

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The relationship between the husband and
wife was based on separate spheres. The two sexes were only coming together at
breakfast and again at dinner (Hughes. 2017).

Most of the women in the 19th
century accepted this kind of life and endured their husband’s control, which
included sexual violence, verbal abuse and economic deprivation. They were
given no way out, the only thing they had to do was listening to their ‘owner’
like a dog.

In the meantime, their husbands were
allowed to do whatever they wanted. Men were allowed to have affairs with other
women and they had the right to divorce from their wife, in contrast to the
wife. She had no rights to divorce because this was considered to be a social

Not all women were
kept home without a job. Lower-class women could be factory workers, servants,
domestic help, prostitutes and other uneducated ‘things’. The word ‘things’ is
used because they weren’t considered as a human. Middle- and upper-class women
could be, is some cases, educated and could study, as long as it did not
interfere with their housework. The economy and the society dictated that women
should work in the home, taking care of the family. Physicians even believed
that if a woman became too educated, her uterus would become
dysfunctional, which would lead to madness. (M Radek-Hall, 2017).

During the 19th century, the Industrial
Revolution altered life in Britain and in other countries in Europe and North
America. By the end of the century, life was becoming a little better for the
lower-class women. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the life of
the lower-class woman was an endless round of hard work and drudgery. As soon
as they were old enough they worked on farms and in factories. But their
situation got better when in 1847 a Factory Act said that women and children
could only work 10 hours a day in textile factories. In 1867 the law was
extended to all factories and in 1878 women weren’t allowed to work more than
56 hours a week (Lambert, 2017).


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