take place. However, it isimportant to note that understanding the past allows us to understand ourpresent and perhaps, provides the cause of many events we experience today.Over the past couple of months, news such as a string of sexual harassmentaccusations towards women of all races have surfaced in the United States.
Inother parts of the world such as Libya, the shocking revelation of a modern dayslave trade shone through the media. This essay stands to prove that historicalconceptions and events are linked to modern day issues such as the persistenceof gender and racial inequality as well as poverty and underdevelopment inAfrica. Inearly October, multiple women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of rapeand sexual assault.
This led to Weinstein being fired from his own WeinsteinCompany and removed from the board of the Oscars and Emmys. In what appears tobe a seismic shift in what behavior is tolerated in the workplace, an array ofhigh-profile men, many in entertainment and politics, have since been fired orforced to resign after accusations ranging from inappropriate comments to rape.Although these events occurred in the United States, it is no question thatwomen all around the world are facing similar difficulties but do not have thecourage to confront their attackers due to lack of support. Similar incidenceswere seen in 18th century during the peak times of the Enlightenmentas dramatic economic expansion led to the European population growth rate ofnearly 30 percent. The growing number of vulnerable or poor people mean thatthere were many people desperately looking for jobs and this overwhelmed thelocal governments.
“Women who came to the city as domestic servants had littlerecourse against masters or fellow servants who seduced or raped them (Hunt, Martin, & Rosenwein, p. 591).” Although notexactly the same, many of today’s cases occurred in the workplace or betweencolleagues. A recent poll which was released by the National Public Radio havecome to show that other forms of discrimination against women are alsopervasive in American society. Approximately 56 percent of women believe thatwomen are paid less than men for equal work where they live, and another 31percent claim to have been discriminated against when they were applying forjobs1. Suchstatistics show that great efforts are needed to improve the country’s progresstoward gender equality. Suchincidences can be traced back to early European history when women weredeprived of full-fledged citizenship and therefore, rights in various countries.
A clear example of this was seen in thedevelopment of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man Citizen by theNational Assembly in August 1789. This was seen as the preamble for to theFrench Constitution and established the sovereignty of the land and the rightsof its citizens. The Declarationproclaimed, “Men are born and remain freeand equal in rights (Robinson, p.
410).” However,pronouncing that all men are free and equal, the Declaration brought upnew issues. After playing a key role in recent demonstrations such as the marchto Versailles, writing petitions and organizing political clubs, women did notaccept their exclusion. In July 1790, a French philosopher known as Nicolas deCondorcet made a speech addressing this issue. Sadly, it fell onto deaf earsexcept that of Olympe de Gouges (1748–1793). In her Declaration of the Rightsof Woman of 1791, Olympe de Gouges chose to play on the language of theofficial Declaration to solidify her point that women should also be included: “Woman is born free and lives equal to manin her rights (de Gouges, 1791).
” De Gougeslinked her complaints to a program of social reform in which women would haveequal rights to property and public office and equal responsibilities in taxesand criminal punishment (Hunt, Martin, & Rosenwein, p. 615).Womenwere believed to be intellectually inferior despite the fact that some aristocraticfemales ran the salons they were not expected to fully participate. As a resultof the this, the National Assembly remained unresponsive and turned topreparing France’s first written constitution. The deputies gave voting rights only to whitemen who passed a test of wealth. Therefore, they left out the large populationof women and non-white males. In December 1789, a deputy known asClermont-Tonnerre raised the question of the status of non-Catholics under thenew regime.
This question began a long debate that quickly expanded to coverthe fate of Jews as they were largely excluded from boarder political and civilrights and faced numerous restrictions on how they could live their lives inregards to things like occupation and property rights. In his speech, hedeclared that “we must refuse everythingto the Jews as a nation and accord everything to the Jews as individuals (Hunt, p. 89).” The customaryreligious hostility towards Jews particularly present in pre-industrialcivilizations, was a result of fear and antagonism and led to horrifying eventssuch as the Holocaust, that has scarred the world to this day.