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K hříchu i k modlitbě

K hříchu i k modlitbě

Žena devatenáctého století

[To sin and to pray]

Lenderová, Milena

subjects: history, history – 19th century

hardcover, 352 pp., 1. edition
published: november 2016
ISBN: 978-80-246-3540-8
recommended price: 390 czk



Milena Lenderová’s monograph addresses the status of women, specifically those belonging to the urban middle class, in the Czech Lands during the "long" 19th century, also taking into consideration developments in Central and also in Western Europe to a certain extent. The scholar employs historical sources, personal diaries, letters, memoires, and magazines for women as well as authentic specialized medical, philosophical, philosophical, pedagogical and legal texts. It is based on feminist texts and images from the period.
The text primarily aimed to follow the course of a woman’s life throughout its cycles – childhood, adolescence, marriage, maternity – and the binding model of femininity cultivated mainly by the middle class. It addresses the status of women as a housewives, the hygiene and attire as well as education for girls, including efforts to afford them with secondary education (the National Educational Institute for Girls was established in 1870, and the Minerva Private Secondary School for Girls in 1890) and university education (the first to open its doors to young women was the faculty of arts, followed by the faculty of medicine of the university in Prague), and eventually to penetrate the labor market; both of these were a phenomenon which took place at the end of the century. One chapter also covers the topic of women and art focusing on women writers, painters and actresses.
Throughout the 19th century, the first feminists (Karolína Světlá, Žofie Podlipská, Eliška Krásnohorská, Teréza Nováková and others) fought for women’s rights: fair treatment, privacy, education, to choose their own professions and economic independence. All of these were denied to them by most men, who ridiculed female journalists, writers and generally all women who strove for women’s emancipation. Some men, however, such as Vojtěch Náprstek or T. G. Masaryk, did support women in their efforts. On the other hand, a majority of women saw the meaning of life in marriage, taking care of their households, their husbands and children. They did not understand the first feminists’ efforts and disagreed with them.
The number of educated and financially independent women was slowly increasing – as independent traders, teachers, clerks as well as the first doctors, painters, writers and journalists. First, they renounced motherhood; female doctors remained unmarried voluntarily, while in Austria Hungary female teachers were forced into this celibacy by law. This law was abolished as late as 1919 by the National Assembly of the newly established Czechoslovak Republic. The National Assembly also granted women equality and indisputable right to vote.