History of Womens rights from 1865-1915

Essay by kentir2University, Bachelor'sA, April 2004

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This paper is based on Antoinette Burton's article, "The White Woman's Burden", which chronicles the British feminist movement's relationship to colonial Indian women between 1865 and 1915. Firstly, this text will be comparing and contrasting Burton's article to other writings on the same subject in the same historical period. In addition to this, the text will juxtapose how anglo women (Memsahibs) living in India viewed Indians in relation to their female sisters back in England. In addition to this, the paper will examine the different feminist's perspectives at play at this time. For example, the text will examine the views of those trapped within the confines of imperial colonial thought and others (whom Burton fails to mention) that were fiercely anti-colonial. The purpose of this essay, (in contrast to Burton's one sided account) is to give a balanced overview of the different range of thoughts and ideologies at play during this time.

If compiling a list of feminist ideologies in today's society we might have, Marxist, Radical, Liberal, Traditional and Gynocentric feminist discourses. Burton's article gives the impression that feminism of this period was more or less confined to one particular type. That is, their feminist ideas were shaped by the imperial society of the then British Empire. To this, Burton argues that anglo women of this time saw themselves as the moral backbone and mothers of the empire (Chaudhuri & Stroble, 1992:143). Furthermore, they felt they had a responsibility to civilize their inferior colonial counterparts (Chaudhuri & Stroble, 1992:143). Burton includes contemporary comments such as, "Somewhere between the Martyr Saints and the noble dog are pitiful Indian women" (Chaudhuri & Stroble, 1992:147). Further to this, comments such as, Indian women are in need of salvation by their British feminist sisters", speak volumes as to Indian women's status (Chaudhuri...