“The Cult of True Womanhood” by Jeanne Boydston

“The Cult of True Womanhood” by Jeanne Boydston

  • 19th century women were seen to be shaped by a cult of true womanhood associating being a woman with home & family
    • Kept from “dirty” influence of business & public affairs
    • Serene moral influences over husband & children
    • Women seen as unfit to hard labor, politics or competitive nature of industry
  • Not a very accurate picture for any woman of the time
    • Susan B. Anthony never married, never had kids, never stayed at home, but traveled constantly & was mainly self-supporting
      • Only ever worked for Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Man cooked, cleans, did miscellaneous chores, made clothes & took care of sick family members
  • Most families weren’t in a position to have just one income to take care of its needs
    • Poor wives scavenged for food, fuel & clothing
    • Middle class wives kept gardens for food, made clothes, made furniture & soap
    • Economic measurement was often focused on men as breadwinners leaving women’s work unmeasured (unappreciated?)
  • A lot of black women performed hard labor
    • Slave women worked hard on farms & dug ditches
  • Industrialization made women work for cash as vendors, tavern keepers, boarding house operators, servants, prostitutes, etc.
    • Lowell, Mass. – large textile mill worked by women
    • Not really domestic people as the title would have you believe
      • Usually excluded the blacks & the poor

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