Jacksonian Age women's reform - Essay Example

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The Jacksonian age is named after former American president Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) and was also called the “age of Jacksonian democracy” or the “era of the common man” (Cheathem, 2008). This era was particularly an interesting one with regards to women’s reforms…
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Jacksonian Age Women’s Reform al Affiliation) Introduction The Jacksonian age is d after former American president Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) and was also called the “age of Jacksonian democracy” or the “era of the common man” (Cheathem, 2008). This era was particularly an interesting one with regards to women’s reforms in America. Some of the issues that caused women in America during this period to seek reform included the fact that women were considered second class citizens and were totally under the control of their husbands. Several human rights movements advocated for a democratizing spirit and the Jacksonian period entailed several arguments for greater political and civil rights for women. These reform movements were known as ante-bellum reform movements.
According to Cheathem (2008), the Jacksonian age was a period of democratic progress and increasing egalitarianism for men but one of regression and repression for women. The age characterized a male defined society and on the basis of equality; feminism characterized it as well as a struggle for female autonomy and self determination. Women were mainly seen as breeders and child bearers. The temperance movement called for restriction and outright prohibition of alcohol consumption due to its strong religious elements. Cheathem (2008) says that the apex of the ante-bellum reforms movement during the Jacksonian period was the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 which women listed the grievances that American women had against institutions that were male dominated and included lack of female suffrage. On female health, most medics did not have a respect for women’s bodily autonomy and many hysterectomies performed in the United States were medically unnecessary. Personal care became aggressively politicized and the politics of medicine became intensely personal. Doctors and scientists defined women’s nature in terms of their reproductive system and were seen as virtually pathological, causing a long list of emotional, mental and bodily complications (Cheathem, 2008).
Female patients that suffered from mental health were treated by hydropathy; dumping cold water on patients and immersing them in icy pools. The Jacksonian era showed the ideologies of how the woman’s place was in the home. Edward Clarke, a Boston based doctor in 1874 warned society against letting young women pursue too demanding an education (Cheathem, 2008). Other arguments combined with religious authority, etiquette instruction and legal restrictions to declare women unsuited for the public sphere of politics, business and intellectual life. In summary, the Jacksonian era had overall fickleness in a period that Americans over simplified complex events. According to Cheathem (2008), this era’s continuing appeal led to the emergence of an unprecedented social equality especially on the part of women.
Cheathem, M. R. (2008). Jacksonian and antebellum age people and perspectives. Santa
Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. Read More
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