Colonial Women Essay

914 words - 4 pages

Colonial Women

Women did not have an easy life during the American Colonial period. Before a woman reached 25 years of age, she was expected to be married with at least one child. Most, if not all, domestic tasks were performed by women, and most domestic goods and food were prepared and created by women. Women performed these tasks without having any legal acknowledgment. Although women had to endure many hardships, their legal and personal lives were becoming less restricted, although the change was occurring at a snail’s pace.

Life for the colonial woman was a mix of imprisonment and freedom in their marriages, homes, and in the American Colonial legal system. Women who chose to come to the American Colonies had a 100 percent chance of finding a husband. Men outnumbered women almost six to one. Any woman could be choosy when finding a husband, for countless men tried to woo her into marriage. Because women could choose their husbands, they could marry those men who would give her the most benefits. A woman did not have to marry a man who would treat her poorly. In most New England colonies, a woman could sue her husband for a divorce if he treated her without respect and abused or neglected her. Although women had the legal privilege to divorce a bad husband, she did not have any legal rights under the law. As soon as she married her husband, she lost all legal existence. For a woman to have any place in the legal system it was better to remain single. Single women, or Feme Sole had more legal rights than a married woman. She could own property, retain control of her earnings, and sign contracts. Feme Sole was a better legal status, but it was a socially unacceptable status. Unmarried women were looked down upon as being infertile. Women could either marry, have children, and loose all legal rights or remain single, bear no children (or have children out of wedlock), and retain her own independent legal status.

A woman had a busy domestic life. A woman played the role of wife, mother, teacher and manager. She had to please her husband, bear and raise children, educate her children, and manage all daily household activities. In the home, the woman was the jack of all trades. Part of the role of the female was to take raw goods, and turn them into useful items, such as food, candles, and clothing. Women had to clean, butcher and prepare all game brought home to the family. A woman was a household factory. Many items in the home were created by women. All clothing was made by spinning, weaving and stitching. All cloth was washed by hand without the aid of any machines....

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