Women and Reform Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Spheres and Suffrage

During the period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were two spheres which separated men and women in society. This seems incongruous in our modern time where men and women interact freely and females have achieved positions of power in every branch of business, politics, and research. But, for women living in the 1800s and 1900s, they were limited in their potential by their gender. The men were allowed to reside in the external sphere, engaging with other men in business and going to the club in the evening. Only men were given the privilege of power in the outside world. Women were only allowed control in their homes, the domestic sphere. The woman's life was centered on her home and her family. It would be the charge of some very brave women who refused to live their lives separated from the outside and took a stand against the wrongs they saw in their society.

Part of the reason for these separations was societal indoctrination which determined what was and what was not appropriate behavior for a woman and a man. Those that behaved outside these norms were considered not only odd, but so strange and abnormal that they were not allowed to take part in the rest of proper society. Separation from society was synonymous with criminality. Women were supposed to be limited to their domestic sphere. Their interests were supposed include family, home, and their other female companions who would be interested mainly in family and home. For example, in the state of South Carolina the work of women on the farms and plantations were instrumental to her husband's financial success, yet she was not permitted to go out into society to enjoy her own works. "By childbirth and childraising, women reproduced the family for the next generation. By their physical labor, farm women produced household goods for which their counterparts in towns and cities were shopping in stores; the labor of farm women kept their families out of debt" (McCurry 145). All women were encouraged to participate in the accumulation of wealth on behalf of their husbands, so long as that participation kept the woman in her separated sphere and away from general society.

The characteristics of the Victorian woman were that she would behave properly according to the rules of society. The more financial success the woman's family had, the more stringently was she supposed to adhere to the rule of societal morality. In the United States in particular, financial success was intrinsically linked to behavior. A woman with a lot of money was expected to be the Angel in her house. Woman was in charge of her home because her gentility would be instilled into her daughters. She was also highly emotional which made her a good mother. However, this over emotional mentality made the female maladjusted to think critically or make the important decisions like voting. These decisions were the parameter of the logical and unemotional male.

One of the first steps into creating equality between male and female in the United States…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Dubois, Ellen. "The Next Generation of Suffragists: Harriot Stanton Blatch and Grassroots

Politics." Creating the State in an Industrialized Nation, 1900-1945. 2002. Print.

McCurry, Stephanie. "Women's Work: The Gender Division of Labor in Yeoman

Households of South Carolina before the Civil War." Creating the State in an Industrialized Nation, 1900-1945. 2002. Print.

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