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Gender Roles And Their Effect On Women

1902 words - 8 pages

Throughout the history of society, women and men both have faced the constricting roles forced upon them, from a young age; each gender is given specific social and cultural roles to play out throughout their lives. Little girls are given dolls and kitchen toys, little boys are given dinosaurs and power tool toys, if one was to step out of this specified role, social conflict would ensue. Contrast to popular belief, sex is a biological construct, and gender is a social construct specifying the roles men and women are to follow to be accepted into society as “normal”. The effects of gender roles have had on women have proved harmful over the decades. Although the woman’s involvement in society has improved throughout the decades, patriarchy in society and oppression toward women are still prevalent through the social ideologies widely taught and believed throughout America, which has limited women and stereotyped them consistently.
Since the beginning of society in America, women have held a subordinate role. Arranged marriages were prevalent in early America as well as widely practiced forms of gender roles. Women could not hold an education, work, or dress for themselves. Husbands ruled the family and their wives, and acted in ways as if they owned them. Often women were left in unhappy, abusive relationships for the sake of reputation. Divorce was illegal, and later on in America when legal, was looked down upon by a majority of society. Although some women held some political power, like Abigail Adams, it was indirect and only held because of the role of the husband. By the 1700’s, America established an identity that came with many rules, regulations, virtues, and beliefs. Mercantilism and trade accelerated with the steps toward equality for men: voting rights with the payment of taxes. During this time, women and African-Americans were forbidden these basic rights. While economic and political ideas were developing in the early 1800s, so were the attitudes of social and cultural matters. Not only white men felt the steps toward equality. The belief of Sentimentalism spread throughout America, changing marriages for the future. Sentimentalism in marriage changed the idea of the marriage between man and woman from one that was traditional and gave men the ownership of a woman to a more loving, compassionate marriage. Around this time, Republican Motherhood, the idea that women were responsible for bettering the future of society through raising children, became popular. During the Second Great Awakening in 1820, women began to hold more authoritative roles. Through religious roles in the Second Great Awakening, women found opportunities in church-sponsored academies. The right of education became more and more popular as women stepped into society and out of the home. Women activism proved successful after the Civil War. In 1920, the 18th amendment, suffrage for women, was brought into society. With suffrage, women would continue to lead...

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