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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

My Women's Studies Assignment

So, this little baby was due last week, but life is conspiring against me. I turned it in today, finishing it an entire 5 minutes before class started. I am getting better! It is a piece of crap with no true cohesion and a meandering focus, but it got written, and I did make an attempt to stay on assignment. Oi! Today was the teachers last day. Tuesday the teacher who normally teaches this course comes back from maternity leave. It is a very weird situation. On one hand, I am appreciating Estrella’s progressive maternity leave policy. On the other, it is very difficult to start a semester with one teacher and over half way there, suddenly switch.

In other news, I feel like crap. (Excessive use of the word crap, -5 points) I refuse to sugar coat it at this point. I tend to put on a happy face, but I am truly miserable today. (Warning, TMI ahead) Between the pain and the diarrhea (can’t tell if it is the diet or the gall bladder causing it) and the general fatigue, I just want to go to bed for a few days and tell the world to GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE. Fat Chance! I did manage to put laundry in the washer, since my kids have no clean clothes. I also ran a load of dishes. I am being very vocal with my children that the sorry condition of our house currently is proof positive that mom does everything, children (and nana, but she has a good reason, and she contributes in other ways) do nothing!

I ran to the store tonight and got an angel food cake. That is my standard monthly junk food craving, and thank goodness, it doesn’t aggravate things any worse than the act of eating does. I thought about getting a bouquet of flowers to cheer me up a bit- Fry’s had some pretty Autumn bouquets- but than I had a realism moment and realized that I had no place spending $10 on something that would die in 4 days. I am too poor for that. Oh Well…

No more whining…. Without further ado, here is the answer to the question “What are women’s importance to the state and relationship to nationality. Include 2 different time periods or countries and focus on voting rights or the Enlightenment.”

Woman’s Place in the State

What is citizenship? Why is it such an important factor when considering women’s rights and freedom? Women have a long history of being excluded from the elusive entity of citizenship all over the world. This has happened for a multitude of reasons, including a need to control women due to their influence over the next generation. Even today, in many countries, women are included as citizens reluctantly and often as a means to control them further. To examine these questions further, let us look at a sampling of women’s place as a citizen and history through several different eras and in many countries. Throughout the discussion will be a discovery telling discovery of the view of women that leads to this exclusion.

Citizenship as “membership in a political community, and carries with it rights to political participation” (Wikipedia). While citizenship is often viewed as synonymous with nationality, it is not. A citizen does not have to be a national of that government and a person can be a national of a state without having citizen’s rights. Nationality is often derived from the place of a person’s birth and in some cases, ethnicity. Citizenship is a legal relationship with a government. Citizenship can be changed, nationality can not. In many governments, there is a citizen class with political rights superior to other classes.

During the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, this class system was firmly in place. During a time while philosophers debated fiercely about the natural and inherit rights of man, they completely ignored women. Worse than ignoring them, the prominent figures of the enlightenment wrote women off as unintelligent and on the same class as children. They were property and dependent on men (Wikipedia). There were some clarion voices of dissent during this time. Mary Wollstonecraft is one of the most famous, writing A Vindication of the Rights of Women. This treatise dissected the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a prominent Enlightenment philosopher and provided a counterpoint.

Another voice of dissent with popular opinion was Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist who argued that if rights are universal, than they must apply to all adults, including Protestants and Jews and abolishing slavery. He wrote an article, “On the Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship” in July 1790, which went even farther by stating that women could be citizens. One of his most telling statements starts the article, “Habit can familiarize men with the violation of their natural rights to a point that among those who have lost them no one dreams of reclaiming them or believes that he has suffered an injustice.” Women often are the biggest supporters of the current status quo, and this statement lends an explanation as to why that is.

During the Enlightenment, women were relegated to the domesticate realm and it was believed that they were incapable of exercising the rights of citizenship. Condorcet echoes the belief of the age when he states “… it is natural for a women to nurse her children, to care for them in their infancy; attached to her home by these cares, weaker than a man, it is also natural that she lead a more retiring, more domestic life.” Women were important to the state for economic and social reasons. They provided an unpaid workforce that raised the children for the next generation of citizens. They were relegated to these roles only, however and if they tried to reach out of those roles, and express their equality, there were often significant repercussions.

In the 1830’s, a good example of this occurred in France. Eugénie Niboyet was a respected woman who advocated for the education of women after the French Revolution. She edited the Voix des Femmes and was the president of a woman’s club. She did a great deal of organization of women in education for “Women must be taught by women, the most pressing matter therefore is to restore instruction to them; to stimulate by examinations, teachers, and pupils, to make both sexes march together on different rails but in an analogous locomotion. If it is important to teach a young boy what freedom is, it is perhaps even more important to teach a girl.” She used the social concept of the duties of mothers for her arguments: “And why in turn does woman not mix her voice in this general Te Deum, she who gives citizens to the state, the heads of families. LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY call the human species for the same prerogatives; honor this holy trinity which will bestow on women the rights of citizenship and raise them intellectually and morally to equality with men. She founded the Société de la Voix des Femmes which had the mission of promoting “…’equality of rights’ between the ‘two halves of humanity’: to understand their duties, women demanded new legislation giving them their political rights: the right to vote and to be elected”(Riot-Sarcey).

There was an outpouring of reaction to the club. Niboyet was crucified in the papers and plays. She stated to the critics, “you don’t want to hear us because you are beginning to fear us. It seems easier for you to oppress than to do justice.” The club was closed not long after it was opened due to the fear that it would be officially banned. Because of her activism, she lost her literary allowance and died in poverty (Riot-Sarcey).

In the US, during the 19th century, there was an example of the state exerting itself to control women through regulation in order to preserve a racial ideal. The Cherokee nation passed many laws regarding marriage and sex relating primarily to Cherokee women. At the time, Cherokee women were marrying outside of the Cherokee nation. They strove to have women produce new, legitimate members of Cherokee society to build the young nation. Cherokee’s were traditionally matrilineal, and the role of the woman in creating and maintaining the tribe was greatly emphasized. The children of unions between Cherokees became members of their mother’s clan. Property was matrilineal, even after marriage. This meant that when a woman had children from a non-Cherokee male, her children inherited all property and were included as members of the nation (Yarbrough). The information lacking is woman’s status in political affairs, but the absence implies that Cherokee men controlled the government and politics.

This emphasis on women as bearers of the next generation and the future of the state continues today with the denial of citizenship to women in several African and Middle Eastern countries. Women in sub-Saharan Africa lack the ability to own, inherit, manage, or dispose of property. This has a negative effect on society, leaving women impoverished and vulnerable, but is supported by “discriminatory laws and customs, biased attitudes, unresponsive authorities, ineffective courts, and other obstacles, such as the social stigma of being branded ‘greedy women’ or ‘traitors of custom’ if women assert their property rights” (Human Rights Watch).

Often when a new nation is developing, there is a “’gender-blindness’ of the citizenship debate which , at best, has a token acknowledgement of women and , at worst, keeps them out of the discussion altogether” (Pati). Accounts of other young nations emerging from colonization throughout history cast “’elite’ women as national symbols and yet, gave them an identity that conformed to traditional norms and values” (Pati). Women trying to enter the political realm were often subjugated and marginalized by the leadership. Women already involved in politics during the revolutionary stages found that were relegated back down to the common realm the moment the revolution was over.

Afghan is an example of this. Currently 400 men and 100 women are taking part in the loya jirga, grand council, to adopt a new constitution. Women were originally excluded from this process, and when they protested, Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, who is the chair, told them “even God considered women to be unequal to men” (Enda). According to their current philosophy, it takes two women to be equal to one man in politics. Even now, post-Taliban, women must be escorted by a male relative and wear the Burqa (head-to-ankle covering) while on the streets.. The current draft constitution does guarantee equal rights to all Afghan citizens. It does not define who is a citizen. Without this security, it is feared that women will continue to be excluded and suffer very real human rights abuses. Even now, a female convention delegate had to be placed under United Nations protection because she protested the current policies and advocated for change. She is now under real physical danger (Enda).

With this overview going linearly through history, it is very easy to see that the adage that “the more things change, the more they remain the same” is very true. Women in many parts of the world are still considered property of the government and the society in which they exist. Citizenship, such as women now enjoy in the US, is still very far off in many parts of the world. As long as women are still viewed as dependants and property, there is no real hope of change, and enfranchisement of the 51% of these countries and societies.

Age of Enlightenment (October 26, 2005) Wikipedia. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Citizenship (October 26, 2005). Wikipedia. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Condorcet, marquis de. “On the Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship.” (July 1790) Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Enda, Jodi. “Afghan Women Fight for Citizenship.” (December 23, 2003) Woman’s eNews. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Pati, Biswamoy. “Emerging Nations, Women’s Rights” (October 22, 2005) Frontline. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Riot-Sarcey, Michèle. “Eugénie Niboyet”. (September 29, 2004) Retrieved October 26, 2005, from
“Woman’s Property Rights” Human Rights Watch. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from
Yarbrough, Fay. “Legislating Women’s Sexuality: Cherokee Marriage Laws in the Nineteenth Century.” (Winter 2004) Journal of Social History Vol 38, Issue 2. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from Academic Search Premier, Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, AZ.

[Listening to: Out of the Frying Pan (And into the Fire) - Meat Loaf - Bat out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (07:24)]
[Reading: Nothing recreational- I is a college stoodent]