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Women's Role in the American Antebellum Society

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  1. Introduction
  2. The importance of educating Women
  3. The model of social interaction between women and men
  4. Equal rights for women and men

Even though feminist ideas have a long history, the call of Abigail Adams to ?remember the ladies? had not been heard, and very few changes were made in the antebellum American society. The fact that basic social rights and freedoms were still inaccessible for women prompted a new generation of prominent female activists to raise voice for the revision of the woman`s role in the society. The starting point of this struggle itself clearly indicated how weak a women`s position in the society was. Lower class women overwhelmed by housework, childbearing, and dependent situation had neither time nor ideological basis to fight for their rights. Most women participating in the struggle managed to emerge on the top of social movements thanks to the fact of being wives and daughters of prosperous and educated families. Thus, the fact of women`s participation in social movements was due to the social position of their families, especially their male relatives. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Katharine Beecher are two bright examples of this tendency.

Being members of educated families with decent income, they started to revise standard ideas of the woman`s role in the supporting females` active position in the society, Beecher and Stanton, however, had two different starting suppositions regarding the phenomenon of equality.

[...] Women`s Role in the American Antebellum Society Even though feminist ideas have a long history, the call of Abigail Adams to ?remember the ladies? had not been heard, and very few changes were made in the antebellum American society. The fact that basic social rights and freedoms were still inaccessible for women prompted a new generation of prominent female activists to raise the voice for revision of the woman`s role in the society. The starting point of this struggle itself clearly indicated how weak women`s position in the society was. [...]


[...] Beecher emphasized that woman is respected by all members of the society solely because of the fact of being a woman and warns against ambitions and thirst for power that, in her opinion, are improper for women and make them vulnerable in the contest with men. the sacred protection of religion, all the generous promptings of chivalry, all the poetry of romantic gallantry, depend upon woman`s retaining her place as dependent and defenseless, and making no claims, and maintaining no rights but what are the gifts of honour rectitude and love she claimed.[2] As it is evident from her books, Beecher supported the model of social interaction between women and men that can be hardly called feminism in its traditional understanding. [...]

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