Freedom in the Lives of Colonial Women

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Freedom in the Lives of Colonial Women

During the seventeenth century, freedom of colonial women was limited. One’s race, class, and religion often influenced women’s freedom. The following paragraphs discuss how much freedom colonial women had and what factors affected this freedom.

English cultural values shaped the roles of Colonial women. These values consisted of women’s work being confined to household production. In addition, religious values reinforced women’s subordination to men (DuBois & Dumenil, 2009). This meant that women were expected to be child bearers and house cleaners. Women often spent their days raising children, cooking, and cleaning while the man performed duties outside the house. Therefore, women did not seem to have much freedom.

However, some women did experience some freedoms. For example, some were able to choose their husband while others had no choice due to arranged marriages. Unmarried women and widows had the freedom to act for themselves. White women were free from slavery, while most African women were bound slaves. Therefore, many African women found themselves advertised in newspapers as slaves for sale or slaves for hire (DuBois & Dumenil, 2009). White women on the other hand, were able to use the newspaper to marketed useful items in which they made or grew. Often white women used the newspaper to advertise. One example found in the Philadelphia Gazette, June 24, 1731 was a women selling Bohen Tea (DuBois & Dumenil, 2009). This is one example demonstrating that women began expanding economically during the seventeenth century.

Some factors that affected the freedom of colonial women included marriage, religion, and race. Married women had limited freedom unlike unmarried women or widows. Married women took the names of their husband’s family. Therefore, married women were not able to sue or be sued, hold a public office, or even vote (DuBois & Dumenil, 2009). Unlike unmarried women or widows, that...