Khedra E. Fields-Barclay
SCOI 316: Marriage & Family
An Abstract of Bernard’s The Good-Provider Role: Its Rise and Fall Jessie Bernard’s, The Good-Provider Role: Its Rise and Fall, surprisingly begins with a reference to Psalm 23 and then pivots into the Israelites journey from Egypt to Canaan, thus depicting God as the original good provider. Subsequently the role of the second “great provider” was fulfilled by the mother, who according to Bernard was the known “gather, planter, and general factotum” (Bernard 1981:43). As depicted by the following chart, it is overwhelmingly evident that the woman’s role as the “good provider” superseded that of her counterpart.
Although these figures are rather impressive, Bernard will eventually explore the concept that when trading was on the rise, the female contribution, in that sense, was on the decline (to be discussed later).
Bernard’s reference of the virtuous women (Proverbs 31) was her next area of exploration, consequently referring to her as a “productive conglomerate” (Bernard 1981:44). We learn that her responsibilities included, but were not limited to: * The sale of her handmade items to local merchants
* Overseer of household
* Monitored the realestate market.
With that said, the idea of a “Substance Economy” comes into play, depicting husbands and wives as co-entrepreneurs. That said, it is later noted that the term provider surfaced in 1532, however, it had not yet become gender biased. According to Bernard, Webster’s Dictionary defines the good provider as “one who provides, especially, colloq, one who provides food, clothing, etc for his family; as he is a good or an adequate provider” (Bernard 1981:44). Therefore the wife was considered as the counterpart of the good provider. She owned property in addition to accumulating earnings. However, they were not her own.
He owned his wife’s and children’s services, and had the sole right to collect wages for their work outside the home. He owned his wife’s personal property outright, and had the right to manage and control all of his wife’s real property during marriage, which included the right to use or lease property, and to keep any rents and profits from it (Babcock, Freedman, Norton, & Ross 1975:561).
Bernard’s journey into the role of the woman during the colonial period looks at the woman in a different light. Surprisingly, as early as the 18th century, we begin to see the rise of the business/professional woman. She held positions such as: * Managing Inns & Taverns
* Supervised Stores & Shops
* Worked in careers such as Publishing, Journalism, &Medicine * Worked alongside men in the field.
A pivotal turning point for the role of the good provider was the industrial revolution. It is at this point that the term provider became male sexed. This was the case respectively from the 1830’s to the 1970’s. (Yet in 1980, another shift occurs as the census rules that no longer may the Head of Household be assumed to be male). The ramification for having the term good provider be male sexed proved to be egregious psychologically and sociologically speaking. Because of this, women were in a more susceptible position. Furthermore, according to Bernard, “By discouraging labor force participation, it deprived many women, especially affluent ones, of opportunities to achieve strength and competence” (Bernard 1981:45).
The term good provider not only moved into a territory of being gender biased, but now determined the association of gender with worksite. Generally speaking, men at this point were working outside the home, thus reducing family interaction time. Male labor and female labor was beginning to become clearly defined both in the workforce and in the home as males had their separate work space and females theirs. With husbands working now outside the...