Primary Source Annotation Assignment about women history in USA - Essay Example

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His paper titled Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected in 1848 provides good material for the analysis of women history in the USA. The whole paper is an attempt to restore women as the…
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Primary Source Annotation Assignment about women history in USA
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Primary Source Annotation Assignment about women history in USA Gregory Samuel was one of the most respected lecturers of physiology in the 1840’s. His paper titled Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected in 1848 provides good material for the analysis of women history in the USA. The whole paper is an attempt to restore women as the custodians of the midwifery practice in Boston, New York. This paper analyzes women history in the USA as depicted by Samuel Gregory in Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected.
Gregory depicts the female gender as the only sex allowed to perform obstetric art. He argues that this is an ancient tradition well established in ancient civilization such as Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. In his defense of what he considers a woman’s practice, he establishes the origin of man-midwifery as a “fashion first set by the court prostitute of Paris” in December 1663. He urges the Bostonians not to accept the practice of man-midwifery and instead urges women to advertise themselves in the papers as practitioners of the art.
The fact that Gregory finds it important to offer such a strong defense in favor of women is a statement that women in the colonial era were not regarded as qualified enough to perform “obstetric art” (15). He also alludes to the fact that most husbands, wives, and daughters were not at ease with male mid-wives as “the husband’s monopoly over his wife ceased” (9). The statement clearly shows that man-midwifery was associated with moral decadence and extramarital relations.
Several aspects of women in the colonial era emerge Gregory’s paper. First, the fact that it is a man championing the rights of women to monopolize the practice of midwifery means that women at the time were not in a position to argue for themselves. This could be as a result of lack of training and education. Gregory applauds efforts from Paris where an institution was established to train women on midwifery practices. He suggests that such an institution should be established in Boston.
The growing custom of man-midwifery or accoucheurs was seen as a “war against women [which was] prosecuted with the same vigor [in Boston] as in England” (11). This shows that even as early as 1840, women were still struggling to be recognized as an important part of the society. Those who supported women to take up the midwifery roles sought to embrace the long standing tradition that was established in England and Europe as a whole.
At first Gregory points to instances where women in the past have taken the task of helping fellow women deliver. He associates the new development in the industry as a way of men trying to earn money out of the “delicate duties which Scripture and history, reason and propriety” suggest are woman’s (5). Together with the reading that husbands have lost their ‘monopoly’ their wives, it can be concluded that men took advantage of women at their most vulnerable circumstances.
In order to understand Gregory’s arguments and the role he depicts as wholly woman’s, it is important to understand the historical context at the time of writing his work. Colonialists had already established their foothold in the United States of America and the practices in England were replicated in the USA. However, the practice of midwifery seemed to be changing in New York. More men were taken on the role of a midwife especially in regard to the affluent sections of the society.
To some scholars, the midwifery functions were supposed to be carried out by women. This was the school of thought that Samuel Gregory belonged. Therefore, it is evident that Gregory’s arguments are primarily advised by the traditions as opposed to the training and civilization that was taking place at the time. However, it can be deduced that women were struggling to keep their role as midwives as the wave of growing men midwives grew in the city of Boston.
Work Cited
Gregory, Samuel. Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected. 1848. Countway Rare Books, Harvard University. Do History. Web. 9 August 2014. Read More
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