Thursday, October 15, 2009


Chapter 8 looks at the drastic change in woman’s place in society during this era.  Hobsbawm places a lot of importance on the decline in birth rates.  He thought there were a few different causes: women marrying later in life (more were marrying in their late twenties), more women staying single for life (and this assumes no illegitimate children), or some kind of birth control being used.  All of these reasons are signs of modernization and women taking on a different role in society, no longer clinging to the role of mother and wife.  Of course, this decline of birth rates was not seen in third world countries where women maintained their role as wife and mother, or did not have access to birth control. 

Also, women were allowed into the work place.  Now they started to take on jobs outside of the home, further displacing them from their previous role as caretaker.  Hobsbawm makes sure to depict both the development of women, and also display their exploitation.  Both women and children were exploited for labor at this time, sadly. 

Finally Hobsbawm ends the chapter with the feminist movement, discussions of sexual liberation and birth control, and the push for the right to vote for women.  All of these were controversial issues, and it is amazing to me that women went from a place of virtually no rights to the forefront of the discussions of the day.  I simply wonder why it took so long, and why women were granted a voice (or just listened to) in this era as opposed to before.

--Arielle Parris


  1. Although it took a long time for both women to take a stand, and for women's rights to actually be taken seriously- once women got the ball rolling there has been a lot of change in a short amount of time. Of course this issue is still ongoing, in the US and in other countries. I believe it is a mindset by the people, in countries where there is still terrible treatment of women it is often because women still allow it, as it is part of a culture that is either all they know, or that they are proud of.

  2. It took women a long time to get the right to vote because there was also abolitionists pushing for rights of freed slaves. Congress was getting opposition from both feminists and abolitionists and the reason abolitionists were able to get rights before women was because they were men. Women were seen as physically incapable of being the public sphere because it would be harmful to the future generation. That is why there were "protective laws" enforced by Congress that limited the number of hours women were allowed to work. Also, there was a lot of disagreement between women on how they should come together to demand their rights. They were split between appeasing Congress and waiting to incorporate their rights or demanding the right to vote. If women could have become more unified, earlier on, progress might have been made faster.