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Women Reformers & Writers

In A Treatise on Domestic Economy, Catherine Beecher (1841) outlines her belief that women and men are equal through civil law and through GodÆs law. Yet she maintains that society could not ômove forwardö if women did not willingly subordinate themselves to men, that in ôattempting to make one sex equal with the other, both are degradedö (Beecher 1841, 2). Content to permit men to make political and social decisions for women, Beecher maintains that women maintain what could be no ôloftier positionö by being confined to the ônarrow circleö of domestic life (Beecher 1841, 3). In stark contrast to BeecherÆs view that women are most socially and economically valuable in such a position, are the views of Sarah and Angelina Grimke. The GrimkeÆs urged women to influence the social and political spheres, including economics. Economic influence was represented by their views that slavery should be abolished, while the sisters found women confined to the domestic sphere little more than chattel. This analysis will outline BeecherÆs views, before comparing and contrasting them with those of the GrimkeÆs.

In her first chapter in A Treatise, Beecher outlines her views on the responsibilities of American women. She begins her description by arguing that the basis of democracy, ôall men are created equalö and equally entitled to ôlife, liberty, and the pursuit of happinessö, is the same as GodÆs law for His eternal governance, ôThou shalt love they neighbor as thyselfö and ôWhatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to themö (Beecher 1841, 1). Beecher attempts to reconcile political and social inequalities with the tenets of Christianity and democracy.

Ironically enough, Beecher appeals to RousseauÆs ôSocial Contractö and BenthamÆs theory of ôutilityö in arguing why superior-subordinate relationships must exist in society. Beecher (1841) argues that ôSociety could not go forward, harm...

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Women Reformers & Writers. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:56, May 29, 2020, from