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Status & Role of Women

In 1966, Barbara Welter publishedThe Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860 in order explore and articulate a crucial phase in the history of sexual stereotypes. Her work, though focusing principally upon what was thought to be the ideal role for women in the antebellum period in American history, nonetheless shines some light on the nature of gender relations and the expectations placed upon women throughout the North American continent as a whole. Indeed, the four pillars of true womanhood: piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity, may be thought to apply to women in all settlements, north and south, Canada as well as the United States of America. The ôproper roleö for women during this period was not culturally specific; however, this is not to say that Canadian society mirrored that of its American neighbor during this time.

The status of women in the early nineteenth century was at once subservient and exalted. On the one hand, the cult of true womanhood requested that women become a ôhostage in the homeö; it was better for her ôto pray than to thinkö, submission was ôperhaps the most feminine virtueö of all, and to be domestic was, in effect, to be a proper lady (Welter 1-3). On the other hand, the woman was an essential component of a well-ordered society. Without a true woman, all may well descend into chaos and disorder. The ôdual feminine functionö of ôbeauty and usefulnessö was exactly that: a duality in which the former component ôbeautyö was not expected or allowed to overshadow the latter component ôusefulnessö (Welter 3).

The utility of the true woman was essential, and her utility was intrinsically tied to her four womanly virtues. Piety, for example, was not a virtue for its own sake; rather, it was a virtue inasmuch as a pious woman can- and should- countervail the dark intoxication of the ônaughty world of menö with a light, spiritual and feminine sobriety of her own (Welter 2)....

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Status & Role of Women. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 00:00, June 16, 2019, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1700922.html