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Women's habitat from the 19th century male intellectual's viewpoint


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Privora, Inge. (2017). Women's habitat from the 19th century male intellectual's viewpoint. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of History. [mentor Sikirić-Assouline, Zvjezdana].

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Women's habitat presents the basic starting point for the entire history of women. In the thesis I have selected just one fragment of female history: the male intellectual's viewpoint. The impetus for this work was Blaz Lorkovic's book „The woman at home and in society“, published in 1883 in Zagreb. Lorkovic's book served as a particularly interesting historical source which fit well into the methodological series of newer transdisciplinary, historiographical approaches we call history of daily life, history od mentality, history of sensibility, history of sex and gender, women's studies. The syntagm „male viewpoint“ arose from the context of the cultish thoughts of Simone de Beauvoir, which promote the idea that the female is defined not by biology but by society; that is, woman's concept of herself is formed under the influence of her surroundings. De Beauvoir asserts that women are defined as the „second sex“ by the patriarchy. In her farranging work, De Beauvoir strongly criticized the imposed condition by which the male is absolute and transcendent, and the female incomplete and crippled. The „male view“ places the greatest value of the „second sex“ on feminity, fertility (along with denial of enjoyment in the sexual act), and virginity. The stereotypical point of view in 19th century Croatian society considered women, home, and kitchen as the Ideal and as such a totally compact space; that is, the habitus, or foundation of women's existence. Intellectually, the male viewpoint was extremely critical toward women. The 19th century philosophers, such as Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, accepted androcentrism, or the view of the world from the male perspecive in which the male occupies the central space. The female habitat remained for centuries in a mentally claustrophic space, a walled-in form of imprisonment. The departure of the female from the ideological prison of gender was – in certain historical contexts – only possible if it was connected to her biological and traditional function as woman-homemaker or womanmother. The 19th century was marked by significant industrial and technological progress. Women were confronted with rigid gender divisions in the area of labor. The male assumed the role of the educated, well-trained expert, a qualified worker whose efforts and salary feed his family. While in the previous century, both sexes participated in producing goods and income, the male now assumed the title of „provider for the family“ and the woman was relegated to a less important, lower level – formulated in the time of the Enlightenment as a hegemonistic concept. The role of the woman and the „model of femininity“ were defined in relation to masculinity. In the second half of the 19th century, Catholic Europe gradually freed itself from this rigid dogma. In the newly established European social environment, the relationship toward women changed. This newly awakened feminism provoked discomfort and a peculiar type of fear; the detection of a female nature was proclaimed a „pathological condition“, and ways were invented to restrain natural urges, resulting in the emergence of various pseudoscientific viewpoints. At the end of the 19th century came a period of female resistance and rebellion which shook the traditional institutions of marriage and emphasized demands for a fairer evaluation of women's roles, personalities, and contributions to the labor force. However, within the cultural zones, regions, and territories of Europe, with their diverse cultural and economic levels, the conditions for gender equality – as envisioned in theoretical terms – have not been created. Progress toward this goal remains even today an alarmingly slow process.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Subjects: History
Departments: Department of History
Supervisor: Sikirić-Assouline, Zvjezdana
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 10:17
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2018 10:17

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