Gender Norms during Colonial Period in North America The subject of gender right throughout the history of America has been a social foundation, which restrains as well as constructs womanhood and manhood all through the centuries…
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However, with the introduction of industrialism and larger cities by the end of eighteenth century, there had been greater changes in the gender norms, especially with regards to labor forces. When more men worked at industries and firms, the women were left home as their work was deemed unnecessary. The social values of the time also contributed to the thought that women were not necessarily in need of work. Such a situation, as devaluating women’s labor prompted them to search new understanding of themselves. In 1629, there was much controversies over the gender identity of servant Thomas Hall, a resident of the area they called “James Cittie” (Brown, 1995). All started when the recent migrant, Hall became the subject matter of gossips about his sexual identity and behavior. Hall’s case gave a break through to compare popular concepts of sexual difference and changes in gender norms throughout the years. Many had argued that medico-scientific theories of gender differences did not include any anatomical incommensurability. Scholars before the nineteenth century came up with some Galenic framework that gave importance to parallelism and the potential mutability of the gender. The consequential absence of coherent biological foundation for sex contributed to the innate volatility of perceptions of sexual difference. ...
Several years of warfare with the local Indians finally could do something on the Indian attack upon the English population. The attack discolored the early image of colony as an ecstasy for settlers. Issues like rampant disease, maltreated servants, and hard labor disheartened the female migrants, which in turn exacerbated the skewed sex ratio and lawlessness. The absence of dedicated ministers and supporting churches across the region added to the colony’s reputation as godlessness and wickedness. By 1629, there had been common practice of cultivating tobacco across the colonial economy. It was fashionable in the royal and upper-class circles of societies throughout Europe and during the period, the English women and the African laborers were also commonly found hoeing rows of tobacco. Therefore, as Brown points out, the task of characterizing the gender difference was set on the shoulders of local traditions, religious and legal institutions, as the scientific discourses concentrated on anatomical parallels. Taking substantially from the religious and medical texts that maintained a perspective of women’s inferiority, legal bodies preserved a gender distinction in matters of legal procedures related to marriages, property, and liability for crime. Furthermore, as Ulrich points out, the stricter the rules of evidence, there was not likely any chances of juries taking the word of a woman against the word of a man into consideration, unless he is from an already stigmatized community; the assumptions were that women were silly creatures, were easily vulnerable to the rivalries of men around them, and given to spite (121). However, a similar reaffirmation of gender
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