By: Amanda Gochez
From Jane Austen, Sappho, Emily Bronte, and Sojourner Truth it’s not that difficult to appreciate the women that changed history. Even from the beginning of time women were viewed different than man. Now, while today it has changed tremendously, there are still subjects being fought for. For example, equal pay. Nevertheless, it seems women have always had to deal with being considered less than, especially in the years of 1700-1900. According to Oxford Literature, not only did women not have the right to vote, but they had to wear bloomers, corsets, couldn’t work outside the home, and were not considered creative or sexual beings. In fact, sexual prowess didn’t happen unless initiated by the man. But, as years passed the “new woman” emerged. Women were able to get jobs, go to college, fighting for the right to vote, and not settling to be the known house wife. Women were being assertive and standing up for themselves. Because of these movements not only did they make cultural history but changed the way of literature too.
Women authors were writing books about what is expected from the traditional woman and breaking the idea that women are less than. For example, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening’s protagonist loathes the idea of marriage, children, and wanted to change the societal codes that women were creative, independent, sexual creatures according to Oxford. I won’t give away the ending in that book, but the inner turmoil affected her greatly. It was because of that book, that writers were pushing for female self-discovery. As time progressed, women were getting louder wanting to get their voices heard.
While the voices grew stronger, women’s rights became more prevalent. The Harlem Renaissance was a literary staple. African American’s wanted to migrate and Harlem because the center for success for jazz music, African-American writers, and newspapers. Due to the movements and attractions Harlem provided, African-American literature exploded. Oxford explains that writers such as Anne Spencer, Gwendolyn Bennett, Jessie Fauset, their writings all encompass what women of color had to endure to be heard and speaks about the hardships African-Americans had to face. The novel that changed the world for African-Americans was Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was published at the end of the Harlem Renaissance. It speaks about racism, sexism, poverty, and the strength of self-discovery. This story paved the way of African-American women fighting and finding a place in this world.
With changes being made to women writing in history and gaining more freedom, literature like many other things, evolved. Today, women have the right to vote, we don’t have to wear corsets (praise all those women who fought for that because I can’t stand when my pants get too tight after eating too much), we are creative, strong, independent, successful business owners, authors, publishers, and are sexual beings all on our own all while being mothers and wives. Without the history of these authors writing about the obstacles women faced, would we have the same luxuries we have today?
Probably not. There are so many women to thank in history and it’s no wonder the whole month of March is dedicated to Women’s History (It could go on for months). Women are underestimated, but history has proven that women always prevail. What is it the world is saying these days; the future is female? But, the past was too.
Becker, Sharon. Martin, Wendy. Writing as a Women in the Twentieth Century. 2017. http://literature.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.001.0001/acrefore-9780190201098-e-764