The role of White woman

                                                The role of White woman

Introduction

Although most of them have been unrecognized, White women have had a significant contribution to the American history (Baker, 2014). Myriad factors throughout the history have influenced the role of white women. The women in America acquired the right to vote in 1920, but there has been a gradual process where the roles of the white women have changed from the colonial times. In 1960’s significant social change started and the White women in America started shifting away from their traditional roles of taking care of the family (Eccles, 2010). Historically the roles of white women in America are often reduced to domestic work, but there is evidence that women have been performing other roles apart from the domestic work from the colonial times up to the modern day where women are highly educated and doing almost every available type of job (Baker, 2014). The paper will, therefore, explore the changes in the roles of the White women and prove that women not only did domestic work but also have in the past offered other contributions to the society. The role of White women is not limited to domestic work (Baker, 2014).

Roles

During the era of colonization in America, the roles of the white women were distinct in the different colonies that existed. Turner and Bogue (2010) explain that the Puritan settlers in New England brought their religious values with them as well as their social structure that was organized to a high degree. The settlers had the belief that every woman was supposed to follow what her husband dictated and did their best in ensuring that the children were brought up a God-fearing. For the white women who had settled in New England, their husbands did almost all the work in the fields, and it was rare to find any white woman working in those fields (Baker, 2014).  In the 1960’s, most white girls were expected to learn how to cook from their mothers and most of the activities they participated in were to prepare them for their future roles as wives that would respect and serve their husbands. At the time, the women were not considered as having the capability of making important decisions in the society (Baker, 2014). In the same period, the white women were not expected to be part of the workforce, and when they were outside their homes, they would be participating in simple activities like shopping. The women were perceived to need the protection of men. It is the reason why they would be involved in roles of cooking, laundry, and other services to their husband. According to Sapiro (2011), they lived with the fear that if the husbands were not pleased with the woman, he would leave her and her suffering would automatically ensue (Ware, 2015).

German women that routinely worked in the stables and in the fields dominated Pennsylvania (Sapiro, 2011). The women that had origins in Germany and Denmark also had the privilege of managing the property as their husbands granted them the right. The English law, on the other hand, did not recognize any woman’s right to own or control property. The English colonial wives in America, therefore, were not allowed to be in control of the property as everything was left to the men (Sapiro, 2011). The Dutch and German immigrant wives were the owners of their clothes as well as other property and were free to write wills that would transfer the property that they came with to their marriages. The early history of United States indicates that a man was virtually the owner of his wife and the children in addition to his material possessions (Turner & Bogue, 2010).

The 17th Century was a period of economic prosperity in New England. The population in the region also grew rapidly at the time. The expanding population led to the decrease of fertile farming land, and the people had to delay marriages as well as move further west in search of the farming land (Sapiro, 2011). The delay in marriages was because of inadequate land for farming from where the young families would establish themselves in. Towns and cities were witnessing the growth of entrepreneurship, labor specialization and a steady increase of labor before 1775. The role of women, therefore, started shifting from housework and taking care of the children to more diversified occupations. During the period, women started becoming teachers, tailors and weavers (Ware, 2015).

Schooling for girls that was supported by the taxpayers had been introduced by 1967 although some towns were not willing to adopt it. In colonial times, reading did not go hand in hand with writing as they were taught as two distinct skills (Ware, 2015). In the schools both the skills were taught but in places where there were no schools, only a few privileged girls received writing skills but it was emphasized for the boys. The men were involved in the management of worldly affairs, and therefore they had to know how to write and read (Ware, 2015). The white women on the other hand only needed learning how to read mainly interpret the religious texts. A huge educational disparity existed between reading and writing for women at the time (Wilson, 2011). Most women could comfortably read but found it difficult to write because of the disparity that existed. It also explains why women were unable to get professional jobs that required both the skills of reading and writing.

The white women were also involved in politics and offered a significant contribution to the American Revolution. According to Baker (2014), during the war the women played the role of protecting their homes, managed the farms, businesses on behalf of their husbands, and took many of the responsibilities that were traditionally for men. The women also played a critical role in gathering intelligence for the Patriots and enabling them advance their agenda (Wilson, 2011). Some of the women also volunteered to be nurses that were serving the soldiers in the field, and some of them did cooking for the Continental Army. Most of White women were not involved in the combat but experienced the ramifications of the war. As the war intensified, the women used their domestic roles to support. As Wilson (2011) notes, buying of the American products was viewed to portray patriotism. The women used their massive buying power to support the American products. The white women boycotted the buying of the British for use in their houses as a method of opposing the British rule in America (Wilson, 2011). One of the most recognized white woman during the war was Esther de Berdt Reed who was the leader of the largest organization formed by women during the revolution. Baker (2014) notes that the organization known as Ladies of Philadelphia managed to raise money utilized in buying the uniforms used by the soldiers on the battlefields.  The efforts by Esther motivated other states to follow the example of her organization and support the soldiers in the war through their monetary contributions (Wilson, 2011).

In 1800, the Republican call for independence and equality as the basic principles governing the United States of America presented an encumbrance to the traditional organization of the family. Traditionally the male patriarchs controlled their wives as well as the children. During this period, a new concept was born and the male domination started diminishing as the society started embracing a more cooperative form of the family set up (Baker, 2014). The husband started viewing each other as partners who had to raise their children together in kindness and love rather that placing too much emphasis on sheer discipline. Between 1820-1820 white women were able to gradually replace men and become the majority in the teaching profession (Baker, 2014).

The teaching profession was an advantage to the white women as it elevated their moral status in the society. The fact that many white women were taking teaching jobs even those from the middle-class shows that women had limited choices at the time and were finding it hard to pursue other professions.  The white women that would be employed in other positions were only attractive to the employers because they could be paid significantly lower when compared to the men holding the same positions (Baker, 2014). During the same period, the rapid changes helped the women a new form of social power and were viewed to be the moral reformers in the society. The women were believed to have strong Christian virtue when a comparison was made with men (Baker, 2014).

The World War II also offered the opportunity for the American White women to change their roles. When the men were sent by the government to fight in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters women were able to occupy new positions (Sapiro, 2011). When the men went to battle, they left many job opportunities for the women that replaced them in most of the positions they previously dominated. During the World War II, many women were hired to work in the factories that were manufacturing aircraft as well as in the shipyards (Eccles, 2010). The White women proved that they could even execute work that was previously believed that only the men could handle. When the world war ended, the men returned to occupy the positions that they had held before the war and therefore pushed some women out of the traditional trades (Eccles, 2010). Some of the women that were pushed out of the jobs went back to build their homes to take care of the children as the husbands went to work and offer financial support to the family.

The role of White women has however continued to evolve over the few past decades as more women are highly educated and have joined the workforce (Eccles,2010).The white women are also active in politics and have vied for major political positions including the presidency (Sapiro, 2011).

Conclusion

It is evident that White women have experienced changes in their roles and are no longer confined to the traditional domestic work. The White women were active in politics during the American Revolution and were able to support the fighters during the war as well as manage their property during the war period. The world War also contributed significantly to the changing role of women. They were able to secure professional jobs in factories paving way for their entry in different jobs. The roles of the white women are likely to evolve in future as the world economy changes and become more demanding.

References

Baker, P. (2014). The domestication of politics: Women and American political society,          .          1780-1920. The American Historical Review89(3), 620-647.

Eccles, J. S. (2010). Gender roles and women’s achievement-related decisions. Psychology of   .           women  Quarterly11(2), 135-172.

Sapiro, V. (2011). The political integration of women: Roles, socialization, and politics.                  University of Illinois Press.

Turner, F. J., & Bogue, A. G. (2010). The frontier in American history. Courier Corporation.

Ware, V. (2015). Beyond the pale: White women, racism, and history. Verso Books.

Wilson, J. H. (2011). The Illusion of Change: Women and the American Revolution. The                                                            American Revolution: Explorations in die History of American Radicalism, 383-44.

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