Post 6: How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes By: Alexis De Tocqueville

April 8, 2009

The passage, “How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes” by Alexis De Tocqueville compares the attitudes toward women in America and Europe. Tocqueville believes that it is not possible to make the sexes equal, without somehow degrading each. In America, there is a distinct difference of stereotyped actions for the sexes. American women did not take care of outside family affairs, run a business, or be politically known. At the time this piece was written, (1835) these roles for women were very true. They never engaged in rough labor that required the use of physical strength, but instead took to their domestic duties. The author also recognizes that American women take pride in their role as the guide to the man of the house. However, the biggest difference is that they have a sense of independence that allows them to be respected. For example, taking long trips alone without fear, which European women would never do because they conduct themselves as timid and helpless. Tocqueville respects the position held by American women and views them as superior in their own strengths.

I believe this author’s view on the attitudes toward women to hold true in some cases in America today. It is hard to find a woman who has a successful career and still be home by five in the evening to have dinner prepared. Domestic duties for women have taken a back seat and now it is not uncommon to see men preparing meals for themselves and taking care of their children. This switch of domestic duties is not necessarily bad and the independence of women has grown widely. I very much respect the independent woman, but at the same time respect the domestic qualities as well. The best way to be an overall empowered woman is to be both. In my eyes, if you can provide a steady income, keep a clean house, and cook you are the vision of “Superwoman”.


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