What does "Women's Rights" mean to you?What does "Women's Rights" mean to you?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before I answer this question with my opinion, I encourage you to think about the answer for yourself.  If this is a question your teacher posed, likely he or she is looking for a personal answer.  That said, perhaps reading the answers of others will give you some points to consider more personally.

I have only recently begun to really think about the idea of "Women's Rights" as I've started watching the TV series "Mad Men."  Though it takes place in the 60s (not a terribly long time ago), it is amazing to me how unequal women were to men in the business and family world.  Of course I know that 1919 marked our ability to vote and that the Women's Liberation Movement didn't really take off until the late 70s or early 80s, but until I started watching this show, I didn't have a very clear idea of what life was like for women in the time between these two significant historical events.

"Women's Rights," to me, is something I take for granted every day.  I take it for granted that I have the government protected ability to get paid the same salary as a man for doing the same job.  I take it for granted that I am not expected (socially speaking) to wear dresses every day as housewives in the 50s and 60s were.  I take it for granted that I have the power to seek a divorce and could be entitled to alimony and/or child support and I would not have to prove that my husband was unfaithful, as many state laws required in the 50s and 60s.  I even take for granted the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows me to take up to a year off in order to take care of a new baby, with the guarantee that my job will be saved for me when I am ready to return.

These and many other protections or "rights" that women are entitled to in America today were unheard of just 50 years ago and are still unheard of in many countries around the world.  Though we did not fight a war (in the traditional sense) in order to obtain such rights and privileges, someone other than me or even my own mother fought so that my life could be more comfortable and more equal to men in this country.

I highly encourage you to watch a few episodes from the first season of "Mad Men" if you are interested in this subject and want to get a really well done portrayal of the lives of women and men in New York in the 1960s.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, the idea of women's rights means that women should be treated the same as men (by the law) in all ways (except when they are physically incapable of being treated equally).  In other words, they should be allowed (for example) to serve in combat capacities if they are physically up to the task but should not have the right to do so if they cannot meet the same standards as men (so long as the standards are truly relevant).

That is the only real definition of women's rights in my view.  There are many other things that are important in making women have true equality with men.  But these are not rights.  The things that Post #2 mentions are absolutely important in helping women achieve equality.  However, in my view, the word "rights" refers to legal protections, not social opinions (dresses) or legal rights that are given equally to both sexes (divorce).

So my view of women's rights is that the term refers to legal things, not social opinions.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In concurrence with post #3, women's rights are correctly defined by him.  There are concessions that are made nowadays to women and other groups which are not "rights."  As a case in point, it is fair that women should be paid the same wages for the same work.  However, in some cases they are actually paid the same wages for a position, but do NOT have to do the same things.  An example of this is the female correction officer in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  When there is a riot situation, all male corrections officers must respond, placing their lives in danger, but not the female,who,nevertheless are paid the same hazardous duty pay.  There are searches that only the male correction officers make, also.  (And these are government jobs--the government that is so "equal.")


lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree with the above post in that Women's Rights means they should be treated in the same manner as men according to the law. As I think about this question I am reminded of a lecture I heard just in the last 2 or 3 years that discussed the difference in wage earnings of males and females. I guess we still have a ways to go.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Since I am a woman, I have mixed feelings about this. First of all, I do want rights. However, I do not like feeling that I need special treatment or special consideration to get these equal rights. I do not think I should be protected because I am a woman.
thewanderlust878 | Student

I agree with answer #6. I am also a woman and do not want to have special treatment from men or anyone else, but I also do not want to be seen as less than anyone simply because I'm female. Women's rights to me would mean that women would be equal to men; get the same pay at the exact same job, not be expected to be the one to stay at home with the kids, etc.