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Michael Soon February 3 2000 History 17B 3869807 SEPARATE SPHERES The separate spheres ideology adhered to by the northern middle class both repressed and empowered women in the first half of the nineteenth century Separate spheres ideology was initially an oppressive measure used to subject women to the domestic sphere of the home But women empowered themselves by manipulating this position to show their moral superiority With this superiority women increased their efforts to spread the ideals of morality to the masses Within the construct of separate spheres women tried to instill family values into society as they fought against alcoholism prostitution and the abolition of slavery lecture 119 The movement for abolition provided women with a framework for their own movement for womens rights Separate spheres may have initially started as a repressive measure but it ultimately advanced the drive for womens rights The advent of separate spheres in the northern middle classes served to keep women in the home Women were subordinate to their husbands and forced into a life of domesticity During the early nineteenth century womens role was seen in the clich that women were to live for othersfor only by giving up all self-interest did women achieve the purity of motive that enabled them to establish moral reference points in the home Cott 71 Women had to put their husbands interests first Womans happiness relied on her ability to make her husband contented and happy Cott 72 Thus women were forced to please others and live without any concern for themselves once they were married One would presume that most women would opt to be single if they were being forced into subordination through marriage Yet this was not the case During this period young women that were single had to support themselves Most work for women was in the textile mills Although work gave these women some independence they were subjected to grueling hours
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