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The Continuing Cycle of Patriarchy

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Before the beginning of the women's rights movements in the late 19th century patriarchy, or a society dominated by males, was the norm in America. Men used sex and marriage to objectify and suppress women in order to maintain a society controlled strictly by males. The foundation of patriarchy was rooted deeply in the marital roles of men and women, one dominant, and the other submissive. Sex and marriage served as a mechanisms to shape the images of men and women in society. The system of patriarchy fed into itself to keep it going generation after generation.
By rooting patriarchy in the family, patriarchal societies are able to maintain unchallenged, male dominance by embedding in people's minds that males are supposed to be in control. Male dominance is normalized by constantly presenting images of the husband as the head of the family and his wife and children as submissive and obedient, which Rowson's Charlotte Temple demonstrates throughout. Take marriage arrangements for example in which the father plays a key role. The consequences of marrying without the father's approval could be harsh such as those experienced by Mr. Temple. He “fought his father, declared his resolution, and was commanded never more to appear in his [father's] presence” (Rowson 15). Surprisingly, Rowson never mentions the mother having a say in the matter. Women in this time period were expected to side with their husbands, and a man whose wife contradicted him in public was seen as weak.
Women fed into the patriarchal system unintentionally. Society raised them to act and think the ways they did. Women were encouraged by example of their mothers to be submissive to male direction. For example, Mrs. Beauchamp at first hesitated to help the poor, sic...

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... patriarchy proved to be a strong one. The suppression of women through objectification worked to influence the attitudes of both men and women. The husband was head of the family, a symbol of power and respect. Females were raised to become wives and women who had sex outside of marriage or did not marry were not the norm. By constructing society into small organized groups where men are the head, women are never given the chance to hold power since they can not even lead their families.

Works Cited

Cartwright, Peter. Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, The Backwoods Preacher. 1857. Print.
Mattison, Hiram. Louisa Picquet, The Octoroon: Or Inside Views of Southern Domestic Life. New York: 1861. Print.
Nussbaum, Martha. “Objectification.” Philosophy and Public Affairs. 1995. 249-291. Print.
Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple. 1791. Start Publishing LLC, 2013. Kindle.
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