In the period precluding the 1700's, many different societies existed together and the future shape of the world was taking form. Christopher Columbus had discovered North America for Spain, Cortez had conquered the Aztecs, and Europeans began settling in American Colonies. Disease was killing the Indians and Nathaniel Bacon had burnt Jamestown to the ground. Martin Luther was preaching his spiritualistic belief of "good works" and Powhattan was leading the Chesapeake tribes. Estevan the "Moor" was traveling westward with Andres Dorantes and William Penn was creating the Quaker haven of Pennsylvania. But where did women figure into the equation? Did they not yet exist? Of course, who could forget the determined Anne Hutchinson, or the mighty Queen Elizabeth the First, but what of the rest? It is quite overwhelming to discover that there was no villainous female conquistador or explorer, that there was no female equivalent of John Calvin, that out of the millions of names in history textbooks, womens' compose a minute minority. This stark reality is so disconcerting when, in all actuality, women of the time were experiencing the same trials and weathering the same obstacles as the rest of the world, but socially to a higher extent than their biological counterparts.
[...] The idea that women were inferior was so powerful that it was not only bred in the minds of men, but believed in the hearts of women as well. The average woman's entire existence was not even dependent on herself, but rather on her male guardian. On the upside, if she had the time, money, and the inclination, she was allowed to dance to her heart's content, revel in idle flattery, and drink tea in the parlor with her companions over a discussion on frills and lace. [...]
[...] However, the journey for European women across the ocean to the America's implies that they were not happy with the meager fair they were provided. They wanted more out of life and sought it out in the colonies. While there, they were not only influenced by their own aspirations and dreams, but also by the Native American civilization which, socially, was extremely more modern and moral, although described by most as the extreme opposite. This helped shape the role for women in the future, for during this time, a female began coming into her powers and realizing her worth, which is why it is such a crucial time period in women's history. [...]
[...] Rather, women were regarded more as possessions than actual people, belonging first to her father and then to her husband, and so on. Most women were not allowed even the rudimentary education of reading, although, some privileged by their parents were blessed by certain allowances. Upon marriage, the girl-child would have no say on the matter of her affianced suitor, for her father, being her proverbial owner, would have the first and final word on his daughter's nuptial plans. As a married woman, the average European female would more often than not regulate the household and take the most part in rearing the children. [...]
[...] She was also a very busy woman, for, as William Byrd the Second pointed out, “They are every day up to their elbows in housewifery, which will qualify them effectually for useful wives if they live long enough for notable women. (Nash, pg. Because of the situation in the colonies, women were forced to take a stronger position in the household, with respect to labor, although it was frowned upon, out of sheer necessity. Now, Indian women had been laboring in the fields before American women got one foot on colonial soil, had dwelled in a society which held them in high favor, was almost equal in its treatment and perspective of both sexes before Christopher Columbus had somehow “discovered” the Americas for the entire world. [...]
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