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Mary Freeman's The Revolt of Mother and the Domestic Feminist

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The late nineteenth century was a critical time in reshaping the rights of women. Commonly this era is considered to be the beginning of what is know to western feminists as “first-wave feminism.” First-wave feminism predominately fought for legal rights such as suffrage, and property rights. A major hallmark of first-wave feminism is the concept of the “New Woman.” The phrase New Woman described educated, independent, career oriented women who stood in response to the idea of the “Cult of Domesticity,” that is the idea that women are meant to be domestic and submissive (Stevens 27). Though the concept of the New Woman was empowering to many, some women did not want to give up their roles as housewives. These women felt there was a great dignity in the lifestyle of the housewife, and that raising children was not a job to scoff at. Mary Freeman's short story “The Revolt of 'Mother',” tells the story of such a domestic woman, Sarah, who has no interest in leaving her position as mother, but still wishes to have her voice heard in the private sphere of her home. Freeman's “Revolt of Mother,” illustrates an alternative means of resistance for women who rejected the oppression of patriarchy without a withdrawal from the domestic lifestyle.
First to understand why this story is critical to empowering women who wished to remain tied to their domestic roots, we need to look at the limitations imposed upon their resistance. Within the public sphere women had the option of peaceful protest which allowed for them to sway the political system that had oppressed them for so long. Unfortunately public protest could not change the oppression that took place in the private sphere of domesticity. We can see in the story that Mother has no intere...

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... E. Freeman. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 662-72. Print.
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