Our Essay Answer


        During the time period between 1775 and 1825, women were faced with social,economic, and political constraints that reinforced the "Cult of Domesticity." Due to the many economic changes, new expectations about the roles of men and women were formed. With the improvements in transportation, new products, the rise of factory production, and large businesses, families experienced a positive change in their economic lives. Women were associated with working at home as a housekeeper, expected to be moral and cultural guardians of their families and society as a whole. On the other hand, the men "brought home the bacon" and belonged to the public world unlike the women's domestic life at home.
        By law, women were stripped of their freedom and in a sense had become "slaves of opinion" (A) acting, thinking, and saying whatever society wanted them to. As for voting, in 1797, women were allowed to vote if they met economic and resident requirements only in New Jersey. Many argued that women who appeared at the poles were not feminine and not in their proper place. They stated that women were easily influenced by their husbands or any other male figure in their lives. Ten years down the road, women lost their voting ability due to a new law that was passed. Women had the power "to free ourselves...to subdue to our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet" (B). Laws of society also denied women the right to an equal education.
        An ideal woman was presented by the press through books and pamphlets written by ministers, moralists, and educators. The virtuous wife and mother could assure social order in the chaotic American scene by securing harmony in the home, providing for her husband's comfort, and by teaching morality to and developing good character in her
children. It was the woman's duty to be "angelic, honest, and more happy"(H) and to teach the future generations the fundamentals of life and to love God in preparation for adulthood.
        Despite women's contributions during and after the American Revolution, they still remained inferior to men. Some women stood by their husbands as nurses and cooks, and at times actually fought in battle. Molly Pitcher, for example took her husband's place after he was gunned down in battle. Rather than crying and being frightened like most women would have been expected to be, she showed a different and unexpected side of women. More important, most women maintained the colonial economy, by running the family farms and businesses. The war left women without husbands and children fatherless. Women took a man's place in some ways by continuing to farm and by doing manly chores, while at the same time keeping up with their housework and the duties of a mother(E). A woman's life was divided into doing housework and learning social skills, such as playing a piano or any musical instrument, and she was not permitted to enter the public "sphere" of life dominated by men. That was simply "unladylike" (G).
        Although it was discouraged for women to work outside the home due to the belief women should marry and serve their husband and children, some women defied convention. They faced long hours of hard labor under terrible conditions. Many were seamstresses and were often exploited. They spent their long days in dark rooms with no windows. Even though they got paid for what they did, this also caused bad health such as ruined eyes and curved spines. Even though they worked very hard, they did not make as much money as men were.
        In conclusion, women faced constraints placed upon them reinforcing the "Cult of Domesticity" at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Many women felt challenged to step over these lines drawn by men and have throughout the decades by protesting for equality. It was women such as these who met in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 and laid the foundation for women's rights and the franchise.

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