Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

December 15, 2015

Response Paper 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Saada @ 4:20 pm

In Flora Tristan’s Utopian Feminist, she recounts her travels to England: the great industrial power of the world.  Despite the tremendous wealth London has accumulated she is very quick to point out the corruption and inequality that result from their industrialization and poverty.  During this time period woman all over the world were oppressed by men and considered to be the inferior sex.  In England, the class differences and dominant stereotypes for English women amplified these issues.

In England there were three classes who each resided in a different part of the city.  By far the largest class, the proletariat, resided in the suburbs.  The way of life for working class men and women was very misfortunate.  The majority of men worked in factories where they were worked to death and not given a sufficient amount of money to pay their taxes and feed their families.  This lead to many vices such as theft, drinking, and prostitution adding to the miserable conditions of the suburbs.  The wealthy men of England hoard the country’s wealth and force the lower class to live a life of labor and misery.  Tristan highlights how women specifically are affected by this when she writes, “Girls born in the poor class are pushed into prostitution by hunger” (Tristan 69).  Women are excluded from most crafts and because so many women are left without a husband and sometimes a child to support they must turn to prostitution to avoid dying of starvation.  Some women worked in factories, but this craft was almost as dehumanizing as prostitution.  Prostitutes were so numerous in London, because single women had no other way to support themselves and their children.  Many women were left widows because so many factory workers died.  Because of the income inequality in England and a lack of opportunities for women to work the masses were subject to a laborious and miserable lifestyle, women were specifically forced into prostitution because they had no other source of income.

In addition to the extreme poverty in England the stereotypes forced women to live as secondary citizens, exempt from participation in political affairs.  In an attempt to learn more about England and its government, Flora Tristan made the bold decision to dress up as a man to witness the English Parliament in action.  Everyone sees through her disguise and reacts in such a way that allows the reader to understand how English men viewed women.  When she first asked a man if she could pretend to be him she explained his response, “My tory friend paled in freight, blushed in indignation, took his cane and hat, arose without looking at me, and told me that he could no longer visit me.  His last words were: ‘Woe to the maker of scandal’” (Tristan 57).  His response is difficult to understand in the modern age because women are not only allowed to spectate but also to participate in government affairs.  Women in England were subject to stereotypes that limited their ability to participate in society.  They were excluded from most occupations including farming.  The thought of a women entering parliament was considered to be a scandal.  Ultimately poverty and stereotypes were the two biggest contributions to the suppression of women in 19th century England.

I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance in the completion of this work.



Works Cited

  1. Tristan, Flora, Doris Beik, and Paul Harold Beik. Flora Tristan, Utopian Feminist: Her Travel Diaries and Personal Crusade. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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