The Role of Revolution in the Lives of Women

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Women’s place before and after the revolution was no different. They were regarded not as masters of the house nor the maternal backbones of great men, but they were almost possessions of husbands, property no more or less valuable than slaves. According to Forrest McDonald, the generation after the Revolution saw the first gains for American women, but those who lived through it saw no significant improvements in their lifetime. His argument relies on the words used during the construction of the new government as being masculine words such as “Republic” which formal definitions of at that time excluded slaves, non-property holders, children, and women. Men at the time of the Revolution, asserts McDonald, subscribed to a theory by a popular political theorist of the seventeenth-century, who claimed that men should cultivate their land, as well as their homes. This notion disagrees with some of the arguments that Elizabeth Fox-Genovese put forth, that women took care of the home and family and men took an active role in the public sphere. Fox-Genovese believes that women had established a different perspective of themselves after the war, that they were seen less dangerous or deviant and more as mothers of patriots and respected for the work they put in raising the children and taking care of the household while the men fought the war. While this may or may not be true, judging how mass social perspectives change in this case is not easy. For example it is much easier and reliable if today we wanted to see how peoples perspective on the role of women in the workforce has changed. We could look up Gallup polls conducted over the past fifty or more years and be able to see a definite concrete assessment of how people’s opinion over the years has changed. Today women are interchangeable in almost every profession that men occupy, but in the 1950s and early 60s a good majority of the American population still believed that women’s place was in the home. But in the...
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