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The Cult Of True Womanhood Essay

3536 words - 14 pages

Jo March was born into a society that considered women inferior to men. The expected role for a woman was in the home. As being keepers of the home, women were in charge of taking care of their family’s need and making sure the home was in exceptional order. This lifestyle was commonly called The Cult of True Womanhood. The requirements for membership into this cult were simple: if one was a woman, their membership was guaranteed and inevitable. The Cult of True Womanhood seemed to be a birthright to any individual who was born a woman. However, there are those who rebel against society rules. For example, Susan B. Anthony was freed from taking care of family matters. With no husband or children, Anthony was not forced to stay at home. Therefore, she was able to travel around the country and provide for herself (Boydston, “Cult of True Womanhood.”). Anthony’s lifestyle was not the typical lifestyle for women in the nineteenth century. In fact, some might have viewed her lifestyle as crude and unusual. However, Anthony’s lifestyle was the ideal lifestyle for Jo.

From the first time Jo is introduced to the reader in chapter one, one can tell her behavior was different from a typical girl. She used “boyish” slang, “… pretty jolly set” (Alcott, p. 12) and refused to become a young lady, “I hate to think I’ve got to grow up, and be Miss March, and wear Little Women long gowns, and look as prim as a China Aster!” (Alcott, p. 13) Instead, she preferred to play games that were designed for boys and fight in the Civil War with her father. Jo’s aspirations to be a boy instead of a girl coincide with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and or Transsexualism in a sense. For instance, Jo stated she was disappointed over the fact she was not born a boy. Her statement could be interrupted as she identifies herself as having more male qualities than females, which is one of symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and or Transsexualism. (Reed, “Definition and Synopsis of the Etiology of Adult Gender Identity Disorder and Transsexualism.”) However, like how the majority of the characters describe her, Jo is just a good old fashion tomboy who did not want to grow up.

It seemed as if Jo associated being a girl and later becoming a woman as adulthood. Becoming a woman meant Jo would be cursed to follow the rules of The Cult of True Womanhood, doing household chores and taking care of her family’s needs. A cult that Jo wanted no part in whatsoever, ““I can only stay home and knit, like a poky old woman!” (Alcott 13) Because she considered staying at home a menial task and associated womanhood with adulthood, she related childhood with being a boy and later becoming a man. Boys were allowed to explore the world outside of the home. They were allowed to go off to college and work with their hands, or as Barbara Welter put it, “The nineteenth-century American man was a busy builder of bridges and railroads, at work long hours in a materialistic society.” (“The Cult...

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