The history of the fight for equality for women is a long one, dating back to the beginnings of civilization. The only problem about this historical story is that there are only specks of this fight sprinkled, every so often, throughout the long history of the world. There weren’t any world wars over equality, and no large disputes between countries, which is most likely why history books and study guides don’t recognize the early beginnings of the women’s struggle. It makes sense not to do this, since there are larger factors that have driven history’s story and have molded the world we live in today, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that women got a page or two in the history books because of the Woman Suffrage Act in 1848. In Bulliet’s The Earth and its People and the AP World History Key Concepts they approach documenting women’s history in two very different ways.

In Bulliet’s The Earth and its People women get a little more of a shout out. Acknowledging that The Earth and its People is a large 968-paged textbook, the women are bound to get a few shout outs throughout. The first time Bulliet actually mentions women is when “Ice Age women would have done most of the gathering and cooking…” (Bulliet, 6) which is understandable since back in the foraging, migrating days, that’s what woman and men were built for. Despite that fact, in the early times there was a Earth Mother or Goddess and she was recognized and praised. (Bulliet, 15) The first recognition of women’s rights appears on page 20, when Bulliet explains that women lost their rights and power when agriculture was born, they could no longer perform the hard tasks men had to grow crops, therefore their gathering skills were diminished and all that was left was caring for their child and cooking and maintaining their home. Women were no longer relied on as the consistent providers of food causing their standing to decline. Bulliet does make sure women get a shout out each chapter he discusses. There appear other shout outs on pages 50, 57, 127, 162, 187, 297 and so on. As history becomes more complex with the agricultural revolution, urbanization and the emergence of politics, women are mentioned less. When they are mentioned at all, they are either losing their rights more and more, powerful only in positions of being a emperor’s mother, or suffering through foot binding (297). The point is, Bulliet does give them a history. He’s just noting the trends throughout the history of the world and frankly, women’s status declined more and more until recently, beginning with WWI and WWII up into the 1800s, but he does note, in the more current sections of the book (chapter 32 and 33) that women’s roles are much more equal, but only in some parts of the world, and women are still fighting.
As far the AP History Key Concepts document is concerned, it first mentions women on page 11. This is understandable since its focus is to condense the world’s history into a small document, no wonder women aren’t really recognized unless they held some power with the Mongols, West Africa, Japan and Southeast Asia (AP History Key Concepts, 11). Page 14 discusses the reconstruction of gender hierarchies and how women got the short end of the stick, generally, besides the slaves created in Africa. Then page 19, they get recognition for their Women’s Suffrage Act of 1848. But, on the same page, women’s roles switched back to home due to massive Global migration. Page 20 mentions women’s control via birth control, and that’s the last time they are mentioned. The AP History’s view on the women’s struggle seems to be that women will always have to fight for their rights, in some areas they have won and in others they have a long ways to go. The trend tending to be the less urbanized areas (India), or the ones bent on tradition (Muslims) are where women need help the most.

Overall, it seems that Bulliet is showing that inequality between women and men started long ago, along with the agriculture revolution. As women became more unable to help in providing for their family they became less helpful and their statuses dropped as men became more able in handling the harder, heavy duty work. Bulliet shows that this habit of leaving the heavy responsibilities to the men has occurred for decades and centuries since the beginning of mankind. Bulliet seems to be telling us that this kind of “habit” is not easily broken. The most successful women have become at breaking this unfairness is in the US and some of Europe. During WWI and WWII women had a chance to step up and show that they were just as able as men. In the US this made a big difference, this caused the US to reconsider what women were capable of, inevitably leading to women’s suffrage to be answered. On the other hand, places like Germany didn’t recognize that and simply subdued women again. The US has always been made up of many cultures, a melting pot fairly open to new ideas. The older nations such as in the Middle East and China have ancient beginnings that would lead them to remain close-minded toward women’s equality. Bulliet’s point is that some places are better for equality for women than others because of its history.

Since the AP Key Concepts only focuses on women’s roles in early civilization, then in achieving the Women’s Suffrage Act (1848), women don’t get as much recognition. But this makes sense since it’s the world’s history wrapped up into a few pages. This packet also mainly focuses on the US whenever women are mentioned. This packet is totally disregarding the struggles of other women around the world, but this makes sense since there haven’t been many successful uprising, or any at all, by women in attempts to gain equality. This simply goes to show that some parts of the globe are better off than others in terms of equality, but there are many older countries that still treat women as property and are forced to wear berkas.

Finally, a driving force of women inequality in the older civilizations and less developed ones is the intense belief in religions that condone inequality. Although the undeveloped countries do tend to look to religion and therefore follow inequal ways, this doesn’t make development the deciding factor of whether women can achieve equality more easily. An example of a perfectly developed country is Egypt, in Cairo. Woman go back to wearing berkas because of intense religious belief, not because they are desperate. The Middle East, though less developed than Cairo, is still a thriving civilization that treats their women like slaves and property that can be traded like cattle. These ancient religions are strong enough to drive these ancient traditions and give countries with ancient histories basis of the methods they run things. Equality for women is no easy thing to come by, and each year women must continue to struggle for it.

Bulliet, Richard W., The Earth and Its Peoples. Wadsworth: Cenage Learning, 2011
AP World History, Key Concepts, 2009