The traditional idea of movement that changes the world is global movement: the explorers and adventurers that sailed around the world, the people who moved and colonized new lands. Michael Adas in Machines as the Measure of Men stated that the ideas that drove the European colonization were the "products of male ingenuity and male artifice" (14). Most of the exploration and first colonization was done by men. It would not have been socially correct for women. But women did have an integral role in other processes, mainly in the social transformation of countries. While men set up the first connections and created global trading, small changes were happening with in countries. Women helped in these, especially in England.
The women alive during the European exploration were not very involved in physical traveling. They sat around, keeping houses together as husbands discovered new lands. But while they made none of the early contributions to traveling, they played an integral role in drawing cultures together, especially when England began to focus on a mercantile economy. Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, the world economy was beginning to grow, and England needed to make a place for itself in the world. To do this, it needed a product that it could use at home as well as export to other countries as material for trade. The English economy found this in its textile industry, although the industry had to be changed slightly. And so England began to establish itself as a textile provider.
The process of making cloth requires many different steps. First a material needs to be grown and collected. England used three of these: cotton, wool, and flax. Cotton and ...
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...that was considered proper work for women, they were immediately drawn into the system. This slight shift changed many things about English society. It provided a way in which women could move socially without repercussions, grow financially independent, and created a link through which ideas could flow. Much social and intellectual movement was done by women, even if it was under the guise of simply walking over to a neighbor's house to spin flax.
Adas, Michael, "Machines as the Meaure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance", Cornell Univ. Press 1989
Schneider, Jane. Rumpelstilskin's Bargain: Folklore and the Merchant Capitalist Intensification of Linen Manufacture in Early Modern Europe. In Cloth and Human Experience, edited by Annette B. Weiner and Jane Schneider. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press 1993.
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