A Tribute to Womanhood
Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.
You've Come a Long Way Baby...Or Have You
Ever wonder what life was like for your Puritan female ancestors? We all know how difficult the struggle to survive was in those early days, but what about the women? We know that life was hard, but how were they treated?...Badly. Women and children treated rather harshly...especially the women who were regarded as instruments of Satan. And children were regarded as the property of their parents. Should a child disobey their parents, any magistrate could punish them with up to ten lashes for each offense.
Women were, of course, subordinate to men, and in some colonies, women were subjected to the same laws that existed in England. For example, married women were not allowed to possess property, sign contracts, or conduct business. Their husbands owned everything...including the children. Only widows who did not remarry were permitted to own property and run their own business. Women had to dress modestly, covering their hair and arms, and women who were found guilty of immodest dress, could be stripped to the waist and whipped until their backs were bloody. Public humiliation could include confessing one's sins in front of the entire congregation.
There was a strong imperative for women to marry...something I understand. Survival was of the utmost importance...children were a necessary part of survival. Sex was confined to marriage, and offenders were punished severely. Women were considered 'morally weak'...based on Eve's role in original sin. Thus, it was feared that women were much more susceptible to temptations and that they possessed qualities which could be exploited; thus, making the women sinful. A woman was to love, obey, and further the interests and will of her husband. If she was blessed with good mate, she had fulfilled her God-given duty.
Families were so much larger back then...especially among the Puritans. They did not approve of doing anything to prevent pregnancy...and at least 90 percent of children were given Biblical names, and a child was expected to follow in the footsteps of their namesake. The Puritans were strict parents, and although they loved their children, they believed their wills had to be broken--due to the basic depravity of human nature. This was accomplished with much strict and rigorous supervision, and, if necessary, physical constraints.
Yes, many of us have come along way since those days, but women as subordinates still remains in some cultures and religions. Male domination continues to exist. I see it here, in the United States...in my own neighborhood...a woman following several feet behind her husband, not beside him, because she is his subordinate and must follow. Why? Why do they allow themselves to be treated this way....here in the 21st century. Because for so long this has been drilled into their heads for so many years...the mothers, their mother's mothers...for so many generations...that they believe it; they believe they are not as good. I place my hope that one day all women will be treated as equals to men...and that women one day believe they should be.