According to Earl Barnes (2009), gender revolution is one of the major driving forces that have greatly contributed to the transformation of the modern societies today. In his latest publication, “Woman in modern society”, the history scholar gives a descriptive account of the emergence of new positions and role of women in the modern societies. Unlike the classical and neo-classical historical times, women today enjoy similar privileges and opportunities the same way their male counterparts do. They are no longer discriminated against in the societies on the basis of their purported feministic inferiority but they wield many newly acquired economic, social and political powers. This paper therefore attempt to compare and contrast the historical and contemporary experiences of women in the society.
Before the industrial civilization in Europe, women were treated as lesser beings and their historical experiences at the time were nasty. As explained by Barnes, women were restricted within the domestic domains where they could only procreate and take care of the children. Worse still, they were not authorized by their male counterparts to own any land, indulge in public politics, participate in any serious issues touching on the civic governance, education, and paid labor. As a result, women reeled in illiteracy and ignorance. In a separate count, “Witchcraft and gender in early modern society”, depicted the lives of women at the time as subjective, inhuman and oppressive. Consequently, “men were wholly immersed in male superiority hence believed that women were weaker sex that must just rely on their superior males in bid to survive” (Barnes, 2009).
The predominant male superiority of the 17th Century began losing its grips immediately after the industrial revolution among the peasant farmers in Europe (Raisa, 2008). In the first part of the “Witchcraft and gender in early modern society”, the book provides a setting from which to discuss the feminist and gendered historiography of power, authority, and status in the world of early modern peasant farmers” (Raisa, 2008). As the few pioneer women such as Abigail Adams gained an access to basic education, they were ushered into the age of enlightenment. Consequently, they struggled for the women’s rights in the male dominated society. After the American Independence, women were gradually elevated to the point of gender equality with men in the society. They could legally own lands, vie for the civic positions during elections, get education, and work for pay. At the moment, women do enjoy high degree of economic, social and political freedom in modern societies.
Nevertheless, women are unluckily still perceived as inferior gender despite their bruising historic struggle for gender equality in the male dominated society. Even though a larger percentage of women excel in technical areas that were initially reserved for men such as engineering and many others reach the peak of their professional careers as successful chief executives of the largest world corporations, the notion that home is the rightful place for women hitherto prevails. For instance, almost all televised and outdoor post advertisements that promotes kitchen appliance like trendy cookers, new-technology refrigerators, and other cutleries will definitely feature a female character. This trend similarly holds for baby and beautician products- an implication that women are naturally caretakers back at home.
Furthermore, women are preferably left to pursue professions that seemingly do not require much technical expertise or physical strength like secretarial, office receptionist, and recording clerks. Whenever institutions of higher learning and training advertise these lower cadre professional courses, they feature female figures to lure potential applicants: female candidates. Ironically, employers prefer male candidates for technical jobs that require some physical strength compared to women lot. Does this mean women can pursue and excel professional careers outside these areas? I really find such media depiction discriminative and in many cases demeaning to women. As such, women in the modern world are similar in status to their historical counterparts.
In conclusion, popular media must recognize the attainment of gender equality between the male and female in the modern societies. Women are no longer subjects but equal partners in all the contemporary societies. Therefore any media depiction that portray women as lesser is very offensive.