Womenhood 1790-1860

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During the period between 1790 and 1860 the role of women began to change dramatically. In domestic families, women generally sided with the men and were limited to performing such tasks. Economically speaking, women occupations decrease as educated men replace midwifery. In actuality, the ideology of patriarchy co-existed with a high degree of blurring of gender boundaries. Colonial women shouldered many duties that would later be monopolized by men. The colonial goodwife engaged in trade and home manufacturing, supervised planting, and sometimes administered estates. Women's productive responsibilities limited the amount of time that they could devote to childcare. Many childrearing tasks were delegated to servants or older daughters. Ironically, the decline of patriarchal ideology was accompanied by the emergence of a much more rigid domestic division of labor. During the second half of the eighteenth century, customs of childbirth began to change. One early sign of change was the growing insistence among women from well-to-do urban families that their children be delivered by male midwives and doctors. Many upper class families assumed that in a difficult birth trained physicians would make childbirth safer and less painful. In order to justify their presence, physicians tended to take an active role in the birth process. They were much more likely than midwives to intervene in labor with forceps and drugs. The role of women began to change dramatically during the period between 1790 and 1860. According to American society, domestic roles of women involved women being limited to performing such tasks and shouldered the men. Women role of midwifery decreased as educated men with license regulations replaced those occupations.
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