Separate Spheres

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Throughout the 1700’s, men and women were confined to culturally predefined spheres of responsibility. “A woman’s place is in the home” was the prevailing opinion in America under the Separate Spheres ideology during the eighteenth century. Women were thought to be biologically inclined to excel in the domestic sphere of childrearing and homemaking while men were thought to be biologically inclined to excel in the public sphere of economics and politics. Some early feminist pioneers like Abigail Adams and Mary Wollstonecraft were the first feminists to test the boundaries. Women were not content to be relegated solely to the domestic sphere and under the guidance of pioneers such as Adams and Wollstonecraft began to challenge the idea of Separate Spheres and start an eventual merging of those spheres. Separate Spheres was a set of ideas that assigned specific and opposite duties to men and women. The ideology behind the concept of Separate Spheres was that the man of the house, by the will of god and biological structure, was meant to work in politics, the workforce, and anything in the public sphere. Meanwhile, the woman’s sphere was confined to the home for many of the same reasons--so she could bear children, cook, clean, and basically take care of the domestic life. This initially meant that men got a better education than most women, because the women would not work in a position of authority like a man. These stereotypes dominated American culture throughout the eighteenth century. In fact, women were said to be naturally unfit for economic competition or political citizenship because of their “delicate constitution”. The idea of Separate Spheres defined the roles of women and men during the eighteenth century. Therefore, women had a very limited role in society. The idea of Separate Spheres is not so much an idea as it is a “metaphor” for complex relations in social and economic contexts (Kerber 28). The idea basically states that a woman’s job is...
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