Professor Perine James
American History 1151- Essay #1
Status of Women in Colonial Society
Women were always considered inferior to men since day one. That belief had been existing until the eighteen century. During that period, English Colonists brought to America their ideologies with them. Women did not have the same rights as men did during that time. Women were tied in a leash, kept in the dark, and controlled by society. Life wasn’t easy for them. They were not allowed to express their opinions, and if they did, they would be called wicked or evil and be negatively judged by society. During the colonial era, women played an important, if restricted ...view middle of the document...
Governor John Winthrop stressed that “a true wife” would find contentment only “in subjection to her husband’s authority” (America 70.) That way of thinking had been around for a very long time, and it just demonstrates how men brainwashed women to be nothing else, but a housewife, and a mother to their children.
In the eighteen century, labor was separated along gender lines. Women’s work usually involved activities in the household as society expected them to perform. Women who worked the land, woke up very early in the morning, prepared breakfast for the children, tended the garden, cooked lunch and dinner, and cleaned the kitchen. Before going to bed, they had to make sure that they fulfilled all of their obligations as a wife and as a mother. The workload didn’t get any easier for the women. Their duties also included washing and folding clothes, making candles and soaps, chopped woods, and mopped floors. Women worked hard, but never received salaries because society believed that it was their responsibility as a woman to do those types of work without getting paid.
Women worked very hard during colonial times. They did not have a resting day. They had to work from sun up to sun down every single day. Men and women were expected to accomplish different, but complementary work role, even though women did as much physically difficult work as men, and frequently the same type of labor. For instance, working the farms is a male job, but women were also needed to work the lands because there were numerous lands that needed to be cultivated and men alone could not do it all by themselves. They needed an extra hand to help them work those farmlands.
Working in farmlands was not an easy task to do, but tobacco became the king of the lands and every hand was useful in order to cultivate it. Women were needed to work the lands no matter how fatiguing it was, and the only way they were able to make the journey through the colonies was to be in a contract as indentured servants. “The name derived from the indenture, or contract, by which a person promised to work for a fixed number of years in return for transportation to America” (America 75.) Working the land in the sizzling sun caused many servants to die from disease. Those who survived and completed their indentured contract could marry and even have lands with their husbands.
Despite the restrictions put on women, the insufficiency of work created opportunities. Women in the city were able to have different lives from those living in farms. In the city, women could socialize with other women. Outside their home, and family, they were allowed to associate themselves with other women, and have their own “women time” without being bothered by husbands or children. For...