Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Inconsistent Roles Essay -- essays papers

Inconsistent Roles The Colonial era spans nearly two hundred years with each settlement in the New World containing distinctive characteristics. Location in the new world is one factor that shaped women’s lives but religion and economics also played a massive role. These roles however were constantly changing and often contradicting. Since there is numerous factors that contributed to the shaping of women’s private and public roles in the seventeenth and eighteenth century it is impossible to categories all colonial woman in one group. Some historians refer to this period as the golden age of women; however, I tend to see this period as oppressive, with only few examples of women exercising social and public powers. The vast amount of women who came to the New World in the earliest days of colonial settlement came as indentured servants to the Chesapeake region. The New World was underdeveloped and sparsely populated; therefore, the women were expected to not only perform their traditional female work but also engage hard manual labor. Early colonial women in some respects were allotted more freedom than women of latter generations; yet, this was not a product of ideology, but rather necessity. European men did not support the idea of equality and saw women as their inferior; however, female inferiority was minimized due to the harsh conditions affecting the entire populous of the New World. The women who lived out the duration of their contract or who were bought out of servitude were quickly married and just as quickly widowed. This factor granted women more power and access to land. Some widows would assert power through courts to guarantee claims to their deceased husbands land. Lois Green Carr and Lorena S. Walsh in The Planters Wife describe how many husbands left their entire estate to their widows entrusting them with the responsibility of managing his estate and dividing the land between their children. â€Å"A husband made his wife his executor and thus responsible for paying his debts and preserving the estate.† By today’s standards the practice of leaving property to a wife is the norm; yet, prior to seventeenth century this practice was virtually nonexistent. Carr and Walsh continue by stating, â€Å"Evidently, in the politics of family life women enjoyed great respect.† Therefore, while the Chesapeake colonies remained underdeveloped women ... ... been more emotionally pleasing but still the women remained distant from the outside public realm. The Quakers shared in an exceptional amount of equally that was never adopted or accepted by the dominant classes in the colonies. The last years of the colonial era did allow for increased rights and autonomy for women but it still was tangled with contradictions and in no respect could be deemed as the golden age of women. Bibliography: Lois Green Carr and Lorena Walsh, The Planter’s Wife: The Experience of White Women in Seventeenth-Century Maryland. The William and Mary Quarterly, October 1977, 556-557. Ibid. 557. Laurel Ulrich, Good wives, The Ways of her Household (Oxford University Press, 1983), 22. Ibid. 32. Nancy F. Cott, Roots of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Woman, Examination Of Anne Hutchinson (Northeastern U. Press. Boston 1996), 3-10 Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the shape of a woman: Witchcraft in colonial New England (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987), 116 Linda K. Kerber, women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1980), 38 Ibid. Chap. 4

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