While historians and scholars use a variety of lenses to analyze American history, the examination of the role that gender has played in society provides a view of history broader than the typical patriarchal tunnel vision taught in most history classes today. Men’s roles in society have been molded and crafted by the changes occurring throughout these societies, but women’s roles both in the home and in the workforce have arguably undergone many more radical transformations since the inception of the United States. Specifically, the transformation of womanhood in the first half of the nineteenth century, beginning with the market revolution, permanently changed how women are viewed in society, by both men and other women, and how women relate …show more content…
The evangelical movement largely contributed to this idea that women were “suited to serve as dispensers of love, comfort, and and moral instruction to husbands and children” (U.S.: A Narrative History, 230). Previously, women were seen as very sinful, but this new womanhood ideal saw women as more religious and morally stronger than men (230). Because of this, the woman’s sphere shifted to be solely focused on domestic duties to ensure the household was as prosperous as possible. Middle class and elite women began devoting more time to these domestic duties as their homes were seen as “havens of moral virtue” while lower class women were still attempting to break into the workforce (231). Furthermore, the development of a new structure and attitude regarding home life gave way to the foundation of the modern family, with delaying marriage to ensure that a husband could financially support his wife and decreasing family size to focus on the success of each child more closely (231). The cult of domesticity, in conjunction with the rise of factories and decline of household manufacturing, changed the meaning of womanhood and further separated the workplace and the home, which created a rift between men and …show more content…
Many middle class and elite women followed the same thinking pattern of most men in the nineteenth century that women should focus on preserving their morality, improving society, and being domestic subservient wives (lecture). This ideal of true womanhood directly conflicted with working class women’s definition of womanhood and the changing work patterns in the United States. Because middle class and elite woman did not view working women as “true women,” these women often ostracized working class women, which caused tension and increased class divisions (lecture). Additionally, this class rift between women most likely contributed to the slow progress of the women’s rights movement that began in the later half of the nineteenth century. As men were reluctant to accept the shifting definitions of womanhood, many middle class and elite women were also hesitant to accept these changes and began to relate to lower class women in a more hostile
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During the late nineteenth century, the notion of ?separate spheres? dictated that the women?s world was limited to the home, taking care of domestic concerns. Women were considered to be in the private sphere of society. Men on the other hand were assigned the role of the public sphere, consisting in the participation of politics, law and economics. Women in the meantime were to preserve religious and moral ideals within the home, placing children on the proper path while applying valuable influence on men. The idea was that the typical middle class woman would teach children middle class values so that they too will enjoy the luxuries and benefits in the future that the middle class has to offer (Lecture, 10/17).
Domesticity for the white middle class woman during the nineteenth century reform opened many doors for women. The success of moral reform is not as important as it's accomplishment of tapping into the energies of women in the emerging middle class.
Today’s women struggle with the same issues as women of the early republic: dependence on a male driven economy coupled with expectations to neither be too masculine nor too poor. In not weaving the narrative into present day women’s issues, Stansell lost a valuable opportunity to illustrate and analyze the how and why of history repeating itself. Stansell also misses an opportunity to dissect the intra-hostility among middle-class female reformers. For centuries, even the most progressive of women have been less focused on creating universal sisterhood and more focused on mounting divisions that allow one group to get ahead of another. Thus, perhaps womankind’s greatest downfall – the gender’s seeming inability to support each other in endeavors that elevate the sex in the economic and social worlds – has extensive roots in the industrial revolution. The opportunistic patriarchy took advantage of what should have been a woman’s movement and instead turned it into one more advancement scheme of the white propertied
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century women in the United States lived in a male-dominated society. Women were always dominated by men in the Patriarchal society because they could not do anything without approval from a man. Women were unequal to men, because men had more privileges, and they ruled women in every aspect. Women were forced to live by rules that were unfair in their households and in the place of work. Men did not treat females as if they were two companions in a relationship or friendship, instead they were treated like slaves . Of course , women would soon want equality between both the genders, but how would they voice their opinion if no one listened to them? Women wanted the same rights as men, they did
In the preceding decades, which have consumed this society, validated that the sex of an individual elucidated their significance. During the nineteenth and twentieth-century, numerous laws supported the subordination of women to men. Consequently, men irrefutably predominated the workforce. Meanwhile the majority of women executed the expected position of the stereotypical housewife. Each partner contributed a part of himself or herself, but on a different perspective. Nevertheless, women defied these laws and destroyed this ideal that has poisoned the innumerable minds within the nation. Women endeavored to fabricate a revolution that, as a result, will ameliorate the life of themselves and the impending generations.
In the year 1960, women’s opportunity and equality was extremely limited. A woman was expected to follow path in which she had to marry in her early 20’s, start a family, and quickly become a homemaker within her conforming community. “They were legally subject to their husbands via ‘head and master laws,’ and they had no legal right to any of their husbands' earnings or property, aside from a limited right to ‘proper support’; husbands, however, would control their wives' property and earnings” (American Feminist Movement, 2017). Women were treated more as their husband’s keeper that cares for the children and the house rather than being treated with respect and equality. Women were oftentimes limited to jobs that would only express “homemaker” abilities, such as a teacher or nurse. Along with having limited job opportunities, women were paid lower salaries than men because the employer assumed women don’t have a family to support, unlike men.
During the early 1800's women were stuck in the Cult of Domesticity. Women had been issued roles as the moral keepers for societies as well as the nonworking house-wives for families. Also, women were considered unequal to their male companions legally and socially. However, women’s efforts during the 1800’s were effective in challenging traditional intellectual, social, economical, and political attitudes about a women’s place in society.
Women were required to stay home, if they did not stay home and care for their children, society judged. Society believed a relationship was not good if the woman was not a “stay-at-home mom”. “Get a good education, because you don't know what's ahead of you. It's not like your husband will take care of you--nowadays it's a fifty-fifty world” (A Century of Women: Hooray). Now, if a girl does not learn to take care of herself, society assumes she is doomed. Women are not required to rely on men like the 20th century. “I had the right to make a choice” (A Century of Women: Hooray). Women were finally allowed to express their own thoughts and feelings, before the right to vote women were known by their husbands, they were not their own people. Women took the right to vote as their chance to become an actual person outside of the home. Women began to get jobs and branch away from the societal views, which took a turn for America’s
The 19th century became the foundation of women enlightenment. Women such as Mary Wollstonecraft emphasized the social oppression women faced by the patriarchal society. The common belief that women were naturally inferior to men became opposed by women who realized their individualism and sought to expand their limitations, thus creating feminism, which is the advocacy of women’s rights by political, economic and social equality to men. It is an ideology that questions the traditional roles of women and focuses on the desires of women. Donald Hall, who wrote Literacy and Cultural Theory, states that ¨Feminist literary and cultural analysis works toward this end, focusing on representations of gender in literary and other cultural texts and
Women didn't gain the right to vote until the twentieth century but great strides were made starting in the 1840s to help women on their way to winning legal privileges and responsibilities. Below is rundown by year of the most important laws passed in England to try to help out the situation of all women, especially working and middle class. Just imagine what life would have been like before these laws were passed. We read all the time about women who complain about being helpless. How often is that claim believed? Women were practically helpless and almost completely dependent upon either family or husband in the eyes of the law. Unless a girl became a wealthy widow or stayed a pitied spinster she had no chance of being independent. But as you will soon see, the road to change is a rough and repetitive one.
Throughout history women have always been subordinate to men. At the start of the 1800s, women were still looked upon primarily as the homemaker. But due to and along with the Second Great Awakening, women decided that they wanted to make changes of their own. This started the evolution of women’s roles and women’s opportunities in the family, the workplace, and society.
Betty Friedan, after experiencing feelings of depression, self-loathing, and dissatisfaction as a mother and housewife, published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. The book, which focused on the “problem that has no name,” promoted awareness of society’s pressure on women to be seen in a certain way, especially in advertising. As Joyce Hart points out in her essay, this propaganda told women that being a wife and mother was all there was to their lives, and that they had to find meaning by standing in their family’s shadow. Hart states, “As young wives, women sought recognition through their husbands. As mothers, women promoted themselves through their children. Their offspring’s accomplishments were their own. It was one more excuse, Freidan states, for women to forego defining themselves” (Hart 2). Unfortunately, many women thought that there was something wrong with them for not finding complete satisfaction in motherhood and life in suburbia, and they wanted something else to give their life some greater meaning. Baffled by sexism in the workforce, Friedan also remarks on the inconsistency of the changing expectations and the treatment of women in America throughout the twentieth century. In the 1920s, for example, the ideal young woman was educated, independent, had a career, and even put off marriage and having children. After women were told to give up their jobs during the depression to give to a man to support his family, women in the 1940s had to participate in traditional “male” jobs to help support World War II efforts. After the war, the women who found meaning in the jobs that they took over for men were told to leave under the pressure of propaganda saying that they men somehow needed it more than the women, and tha...
The antebellum period brought about many changes in American society. One of those changes was the manner in which American households were organized. Robert Max Jackson argues in his account on gender inequality that up to the 1820s a patriarchal ideology predominated the American household giving fathers absolute authority; they would rule their homes as “communal enterprises” in which husband and wife worked together in order to earn a living. However, from the 1820s onwards the economy rapidly expanded as a consequence of the industrial revolution and many men started to work away from home in industrial and commercial firms, leaving their wives at home to carry out the domestic duties. As a result of this “separation of spheres”, these wives, who no longer were under the constant observation and influence of their husbands, gained the new identity of a “true woman” in which they were supposed to “spent their time raising their children and managing their household” (Jackson 199). As Barbara Welter points out, a “Cult of True Womanhood” arose among the middle classes in which “true women” were to hold “the four cardinal virtues of piety, purity, submission and domesticity” (152). This ideology of domesticity, as opposed to the patriarchal ideology, prescribed women’s conduct throughout the nineteenth century.