Equality Among Men and Women

Equality today among men and women is still a hot topic, as it was back in the 1920s. There was much debate in the 1920s over how to acquire the “same” rights as men for women. So, the movement began, but the real question is, how exactly does one define the “same” rights for men and women? Is there a different treatment involved to accomplish this? With these questions come debates, and it is important to recognize the arguments on each side and where they originated from.

One central strategic question for the women’s rights movement in the late nineteenth century has concerned alliances: should proponents of “the cause of woman” ally with advocates for the rights for freed slaves, with temperance workers, etc, or none of them? For a time, many different woman leaders could not agree on what they meant for the breadth of the woman’s movement and for the priority assigned to woman’s issues. Many woman leaders were either against such alliances, or for them (Cott, 503-504). This can be a difficult issue for women who seem to be fighting for the same thing, but on completely different terms and levels. If women could not seem to agree with each other, then how would their goals of having the same rights as men ever become accomplished?

The 1920s debate on equal rights seemed to have brought it into focus, leaving generations later to eventually resolve, asking the question whether “equal rights” – a concept adopted, after all, from the male political tradition – matched woman’s needs (Cott, 504). This is already viewed as a concept originated from males, so automatically, rights will have to be changed to fit the needs of women’s, requiring women to have “special treatment”. The nineteenth century at the time was facing never before seen controversies. Men and women were viewed as competing against each other. Nineteenth-century advocates claimed woman’s “right to labor,” meaning that they wanted to have their labor recognized by everyone, and become diversified (Cott, 504).

On the opposing side of the argument, some opponents believed that sex-based legislation was necessary because of women’s biological and social roles as mothers. They claimed that “The inherent differences are permanent. Women will always need many laws different from those needed by men.”. “Women as such, whether or not they are mothers present or prospective, will always need protective legislation”; “The working mother is handicapped by her own nature” (Cott, 509). Having said these remarks about women show that women are being oppressed by their maternal nature. Is it fair to tell a woman that she is handicapped from the workforce just because she can carry a child?

The history sinks deep within the fight for equal rights among everyone. Equal rights among men and women will never truly be what everyone envisions. The law can make equal rights among men and women technically the same, but with how people treat it and with what they do with it is in their own hands. Progress is on the rise for equality, it is just how one takes advantage of it now.


Cott, Nancy F. (c2016). Equal Rights and Economic Roles: The Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1920s. New York, (N.Y.): Oxford University Press.

16 thoughts on “Equality Among Men and Women

  1. Your post was extremely interesting to read. Very insightful. Good job!

    It is important to analyze what exactly it means to have equal rights for all genders, and doubly important to recognize how to get to a place of equality for all.
    It’s interesting to know that many historical non-men leaders often found themselves indecisive on bigger matters of who to align with, but it doesn’t surprise me. Since there was never really a unanimous decision, it was difficult for these leaders to come to a consensus. Additionally, it starts to raise questions of how to reach an understanding for all non-men. As you said, some were very likely fighting for the same rights, but they had different ideas and terms in which they were willing to do this. I agree with you that heavy disagreements among non-men could make for a difficult situation in reaching their goals of equality together.

    The 1920s movement was incredibly earth-shattering for the rights of non-men. Since equal rights did not initially include non-men, it was important for the concept to be redefined to include them. So, in this case, we can technically define the redefinition of “equal rights” as requiring non-men to have some form of special treatment. But I also think special treatment can have somewhat of a negative connotation to it. When people hear “special treatment”, they oftentimes might think that the other party (in this case, non-men) would be receiving more and better treatment than men. However, that’s not the case, as you and I both know. “Special treatment” in this context simply refers to the different needs that non-men will have compared to men.

    I don’t think it’s fair to tell non-men that they’re restricted from the workforce just because of issues of procreation. Sex-based legislation doesn’t really mean that both parties are not equal either; it just means that, to get to the stage of equality, non-men are going to require different things. By receiving these differences, equality will surely be achieved. That’s why the concept of equity is so important; equity is a concept that states that all people are given the tools they need to be successful. Once equity is employed, we can reach the final goal of equality.

    Your last point is especially powerful and resonates with me. Honestly, humans are flawed and not everyone will hold the same viewpoints on this matter. Everyone will probably still argue about the technicalities of equal rights. But overall, that doesn’t matter. Equality will still come and the proper laws will be reinforced to protect everyone, whether people approve of it or not.

  2. Motherhood and women’s biology is often a tricky topic. I personally don’t believe that women are “handicapped” because of their biological functions, but the word “oppressed” is more difficult to define. While I think that it can be a burden for women to need to be conscientious of menstruation and childbearing and all of the other factors that come with it, I probably wouldn’t go as far to say that it’s oppressive. The strength of women is often underplayed and the fact women are capable of handling this added responsibility is a testament to their strength. What needs to be changed is the attitude of society who believe that woman are not worth more than their uterus. We are not breeders, animals or machines; we are people. Nice job, Hannah!

    1. I enjoyed reading this comment and I agree! Women are definitely worth more than just their uterus and I feel that people even now cannot seem to see past that. We have to be able to see women as more than just future wives and mothers because like you said, we are not just breeders, we are people with our own dreams and ambitions that deserve to be realized. Very good comment Elise!

      1. I liked how you emphasized on how people only look at women as mothers and wives. I think in the olden times/days when women were first looked at women in this light was where society made their first mistake. From there until modern day, women are always going to be first looked as worth only these views especially from men. Great comment!

    2. What a comment i love your last line that you say makes for a very good point. I think some people lose that fact we are not going to do the same thing over and over like a machine mistakes will be made at times no one is perfect that’s all part of being human. Woman are very strong I believe stronger than most men emotionally that is, they go through so much more things then what men ever have to go through. Excellent comment really put a lot of things in perspective.

    3. I agree with your comment. I don’t think that men understand how hard it can be being a woman. I work in a male dominated field and it is extremely difficult sometimes because they look at woman as being inferior at times.

  3. I was really intrigued by your blog post! I think it is insane that even back in these times that men and women were still looked at as not equal and it is overflown into times present today. You still hear men in today’s time talk about women as just a piece of meat and “using them for what they are good for.” I think this is horrendous and like you said women are more than just their uterus and need to be as equals with men. Your post was truly an eye opener and I wish more people thought like this so they could see women’s worth.

  4. Very good post! I think that sometimes even in the workplace it is hard for men to see women as their equal. For example, I work in a men’s prison and I’ll have men co-workers step up and try to handle certain situations for me simply cause I am a woman.

    1. Over the summer I wanted to work for someone who installed pools. The whole crew was full of men, and they looked at me like I was joking. I like to work outside, I am a hard worker, and I am willing to learn new things. I never got the job. Jobs in the workforce should not be gendered. Anybody can be just as good at that job as the next person.

      1. I think this is often a barrier. I interviewed for a garden center job one time and the manager (also a woman actually) said “you know this job involves getting dirty and hauling around bags of soil, mulch, etc. right?” As if because I was a young woman I was not ok with getting dirty and doing hard work. I was offended, I fired back that I needed a job so I would do what I had to and was hired on the spot. I almost told them no because I was so angry, but needed the money so I took it.

  5. While reading this week’s excerpts, I realized that I have been taking technology’s importance for granted, especially when regarding social justice. Nowadays and even a few decades ago, it has been simple to share ideas with people across the planet. Back in the early twentieth century, this was not as easy, which possibly contributes to the reason why most feminists’ views did not align, and thus, many factions broke out as a result. If it were simpler for activists to communicate back then, maybe we would have seen a more unified feminist movement; to me, it seems that the main reason this wave of feminism was so scattered was due to a lack of proper communication. Of course, there are several other factors that led to this, but miscommunication seems to be a logical reason. Even today we see feminists of all sorts with differing ideologies, but when it comes to the issue of equal rights in the workplace, all seem to agree that labor equity and equality are must-haves, unlike the conflicting beliefs of first-wave feminists.

  6. I like how you mentioned that true equality will never be what every single person envisions. I 100% agree that everyone has a different definition about this subject and it is very controversial.

    1. It is extremely controversial. This will always be a hot topic, and there will always be someone unhappy about the way that they are being treated. It is a shame that there are situations where people are not given the same opportunities, such as in the workforce.

  7. This is an interesting view on the fight for equal rights. While I have never considered my maternal instinct a handicap, the fact that woman are the ones to carry and give birth to children is often looked at as a negative. For instance, I lost a job at 5 months pregnant, because of the fact that I was going to be off on maternity leave so soon it was impossible to find a job until after I had my daughter. Then, when interviewing after you have to explain why you weren’t working for so many weeks/months, and that can become another hurdle. So while I am proud of my ability to have a child and maintain a career, it can be a challenge, especially in more “male-dominated” fields.

  8. I agree that women are taken advantage of and belittled. I think the thing that really holds women back is stereotypes. For example women always get the reputation of needing to cook and clean for the home. If they didn’t have that reputation in the back of there mind maybe things would be different. Not all women need to do all that and sometimes men stay home and do those things, so why do women always have to have that title and feel obligated.

  9. I really enjoyed how your writing offered perspective by breaking down the arguments from each side of the debates. One thing that still baffles me is the divisions that come from the fight for rights and equality. The fact that the women’s rights movement had to decide what alliances to make and what other movements to publicly support really shows the political game one has to play to make progress. Even though the fight for women’s rights relies heavily on others seeing from our point of view, the movement itself didn’t necessarily eagerly give the support they were looking for to others (for freed slaves, with temperance workers, etc). To think that it was such a delicate issue that there were divisions within even the groups of women fighting for their gender to be heard; like you mentioned “This can be a difficult issue for women who seem to be fighting for the same thing, but on completely different terms and levels.” Such a strange but powerful concept.

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