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Role of Women in Early American Life - Essay Example

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Evaluate the role of women in this very early American life. What models are women supposed to follow? Do women always follow these? What tensions develop? Introduction Women folk were forced to lead a submissive life and their role in social life is determined by the male dominating society…
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Evaluate the role of women in this very early American life. What models are women supposed to follow? Do women always follow these? What tensions develop? Introduction Women folk were forced to lead a submissive life and their role in social life is determined by the male dominating society. Historians have identified remarkable influence by various factors such as community, race, ethnic backgrounds and culture. In the field of literature and religion, historians identified only a nominal representation from the part of women. The works of Judith Murray, Phillis Wheatley and Sarah kemble Knigh bestow a realistic picture about the role of women in the early American life. Through their works one can comprehend women’s life and their voice about tensions related with discrimination, religion and work fields. Generally, American society had kept a positive attitude towards the masculine- equalitarian model. Because of Western influence and colonization, women’s life in the American society marked certain changes. They had faced some adversities like racial discrimination, religion, violence, sexism and problems in work fields. Historians have documented that American culture is the product of people from various nations having different racial, religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Therefore, remarkable changes were took place in women’s role in the society. Women had enjoyed religious freedom and played an important role in families. Some ancient cultures in America had permitted women to play a remarkable role in family as well as in the society. The Journal of Madam Knight by Sarah kemble Knigh reveals the social stature of American women. The central character of Knigh’s work engaged in education, running business institutions and played a vital role in family life. Generally women worked domestic duties and few women engaged in farming. Then, the arrival of Western culture paved the way for some drastic changes in women’s life. In the field of literature, few women were concentrated in writing about female issues. The event of industrial revolution paved the way for relevant changes in the life of women folk. As a result of industrial revolution, large numbers of vacancies were formed in large industries. Large number of female workers in America went to work outside their home. Consequently, they have made some relevant development in their role in family as well as social life. Jone Johnson Lewis has attempted some valuable observations concerning women folk and social life in the early American life. Author remarks that “In the 1840s and 1850s, as the Industrial Revolution and factory labor took hold in the United States, more women went to work outside the home” (Lewis). In spite of these positive changes, industrial revolution coined some adversities. The life of working class people, especially women’s life became hazardous and women were exploited by their masters. Generally, women in the early American life lead a life which is determined by the patriarchal society. A large number of women and few men agreed the fact that American society supposed to follow the masculine-equalitarian model for women. Gayle Graham Yates states; “There are still many women and more men who follow the masculine- equalitarian model for women’s role in American life” (Yates). Analysing the history of early American women’s life, one can identify the fact that women in American society always worked for getting identity and defending rights. Educational opportunities and political representations which happened among the women folk after American Revolution underline their unending war for rights. The works of Phillis Wheatley gives relevant examples for female representation in literature and social life. Through the poem ‘To Maecenas’ author gives female response towards the epics of Virgil and Homer. Women in American society have continued their efforts to achieve masculine-equalitarian model for social life and they had marked their identity in some areas of social life. But the overwhelming influence of Western culture Native American women lost their respect and some deterioration took place in their role. Judith Murray made some remarkable observations about the issue of gender inequality in the work entitled, ‘On the Equality of the Sexes.’ Even in the educated society, women face inequality and discrimination. Male dominating society accepts education and employment opportunities for women as an instrument to pull them in a constrained world. Judith Murray argues, “The exquisite delicacy of the female mind proclaimeth the exactness of its texture, while its nice sense of honour announceth its innate, its native grandeur” (Murray). One can find some relationships between sexual inequality and social structure. Tensions about racial discrimination, sexism, violence and identity crisis were developed among the womenfolk in American society. Jacqui Popick observes that “They also experience racism and sexism from Western cultures and have even lost respect from their own culture” (Popick). Woman had faced many adversities like low wages, unhealthy working atmosphere, poor nutrition and discrimination. Women who worked in mines often forced to work from early morning to late evening. Black women have faced the problem of identity crisis among the white dominating society. Men often received woman as an instrument for domestic duties and sexual pleasures. “Thus black women, whose lives like those of white women were circumscribed by the cycle of pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, had those bonds cut away even more frequently than by simply deat” (Brewer). Black women in American society had depended their husbands as masters. In their families they did not get sufficient places and they also faced severe discriminations in work fields. Conclusion In the final assessment, it is evident that women in the early American society had forced to lead a submissive life. They had led a constrained life and the patriarchal society received woman as an instrument for domestic duties and sexual pleasures. During the age of American Revolution, women began to engage in domestic duties as well outside jobs. Industrial revolution paved the way for some desirable changes they had worked for getting masculine-equalitarian model for social life. Colonization and Western influence raised some tensions related with race, politics, religion, sexism and violence among the womenfolk. Works Cited Brewer, Holly. Women in Colonial America. North Carolina State University. Web. Nov 15, 2011 http://www.dlt.ncssm.edu/lmtm/docs/women_col_am/script.pdf. Lewis, Jone Johnson. Women and Work in Early America. About.com. 2011. Web. Nov 15, 2011 http://womenshistory.about.com/od/worklaborunions/a/early_america.htm. Murray, Judith Sargent. On the Equality of the Sexes. A celebration of women writers. Web. Nov 16, 2011. http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/murray/equality/equality.html. Popick, Jacqui. Native American Women, Past, Present and Future. Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal. 2006. Vol1. No.1. Yates, Gayle Graham. What Women Want: The Ideas of the Movement. Harvard Paperbacks. Harvard University Press, 1975. Print. Read More
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