Women In The 19th Century

Topics: Woman, Gender, Feminism Pages: 4 (890 words) Published: March 29, 2016


Over the span of the 19th century, the European Empire expanded physically with the colonization of Africa, and mentally through advances in technology and education. Despite the fact that the world was changing, European women had the enormous pressure set upon them to stay exactly as they had always been. Through this paper, readers will better understand the limits and restrictions that 19th-century women bodies and sexuality had placed upon them, and how colonization, plus the emergence of the infamous “New Women,” tested these restrictions and generated anxiety over the positions of women.
For the 19th century upper and middle-class women, the way social guidelines were adhered to could make or break women. As seen in Ladies of the...

In the French and Poska article Gender and Imperialism, readers are shown how the obsession with women’s bodies carried over strongly into European colonies as an issue of possession. The ability to be a man partially depended on “The ability to protect the chastity of the women in his care” (French 381). It is also to be noted that colony women were expected to “produce white Europeanized children” despite the apparent terror and danger surrounding them due to the wild land and wild men (French 387). European strength and perceived virility all depend on these women making European children as much and as quickly as they could. To complicate these matters even more, upholding family values fell largely on the heads of these women. As was a common in the 19th century, women were in charge making “their homes a haven for the men to come home to” (Smith 54). In some cases this meant quite literally making a home in the jungle, to preserve the European standard. The men must be able to be contained, as they often found themselves consumed by lust for the “exotic native women.” European women had to dress modestly and be as European as possible as an antithesis to this figure. She...

The coined “New Women,” applied to girls who taught a higher form of education, and used that education to explore options that up until this time, where thought of as preposterous. A key idea, expressed in Ester Newton’s The Mythic of the Mannish Lesbian, was through their education, women could work for “economic and social separation from the family and home” (Newton 562) Another question brought to debates the question of what women could do with their own bodies, and how could it be possible that a “phallic” element be left out? (Newton 561) Through higher education such as universities, women were able to grow to have deep friendships that were only furthered by the knowledge they were gaining. These friendships were described as “intense, passionate, and committed,” leading to a sexuality scare, as men became worried about what other knowledge that women may be picking up at schools (Newton 561). As noted above, in a time where women were supposed to be asexual, this was a key factor of the “New Women,” and made men downright...
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