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The Impact of the Nineteenth-Century Ideal of True Womanhood - Essay Example

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The Impact of the Nineteenth-Century Ideal of ‘True Womanhood’ Word Count: 1,750 (7 pages) Introduction The historical, classist, and racial worldviews in Barbara Welter’s “Cult of Domesticity,” also known as the Cult of True Womanhood—had far-reaching and long-lasting consequences which are key flashpoints in today’s feminist era in the 21st century…
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The Impact of the Nineteenth-Century Ideal of True Womanhood
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Download file to see previous pages In the past, the four virtues of piety, purity, submission, and domesticity were considered premier attributes of the True Woman.1 According to Welter’s tale, one would have thought that women still should adhere to these austere values of what womanhood really looks like. Of course, this article was written in the late 60s. Women had only had the right to vote for a few years, and it was still rather unheard of for women not to get married right out of high school. In fact, women who went out of the household to work during the late 60s were seen somewhat as rule-breakers. These rule-breakers, in effect, ended up changing the way we think about society and womens’ roles within it. If these daring women had not stood up and made a case for why they should have been able to go out of the home and work, many women today would not have had the chance to do the same—because these initial women took a risk. In some ways, having women stay at home is great because they can multitask from home. There are some good things about the historical values that have been placed on women. Women are generally thought to be gentle, kind people. Of course, this is not always the case—but women who are very feminine are seen as more highly valued in society because it sticks to that core virtue of piety. Women are also thought to be more “pure” than men—for whatever reason this is, probably one will never know except to say that this is probably more likely true than not, even though it is a stereotype. Third, women are seen as more submissive than men. This can also be a stereotype—but being submissive is not necessarily a bad quality unless one has to stand up for one’s rights. Fourth, it should be noted that women, as ‘domestic engineers’ of the home—also known as homemakers—are privy to the same kinds of stereotypes that govern the opposite side of the coin, the world of men. The Classist View Women becoming more independent was not something that men wanted to hear about. “[Men] spoke…of religion as a kind of tranquilizer for the many undefined longings which swept even the most pious young girl, and about which it was better to pray than to think.”2 Religious ideations did not cloud, but rather helped, the minds of young girls and women. The view that was held that women were delicate and frail and needed someone to help them was a societal view held by Anglo-Saxon men, and this was definitely some sort of classist view. Black women were not regarded as such by white men, and that idea will be explained, entertained, and dissected in the next portion of this piece. However, white women were fair game for being seen as being in need of assistance. In the early 1970s a modern version of feminism shook American medicine to its foundations and buttressed its sister movement, the patient’s rights movement. Both movements attempted to take patients’ decisions about their bodies and lives away from physicians –especially male physicians – and gave women and patients control. The landmark book was Our Bodies, Ourselves, by a group of women patients in Boston who had access to one of the grandest – some would say, most self-satisfied – medical centers in the world, Harvard. Because they couldn’t get the information they wanted in down-to-earth, patient-friendly language, they published ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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