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THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN COLONIAL AMERICA POSITION OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY The position of women who had an almost completely dependent status under English common law improved rapidly in English America Despite the prevailing doctrine both civil and religious that women were inferior to men and subject to their authority women were of great practical value in the New World and their status was considerably above that of those in the Old World Historians believe that women were highly valued and had a greater equality in those times when they were vital to the economy Nevertheless women in colonial America were commonly regarded as inferior beings and the colonial period was far from being a golden age for women Sex roles were sharply separated Men were striving for male dominance and women were being forced into abject submission Puritan males valued those characteristics in women which would ensure submissiveness The ideal woman blushed readily and chose to be seen rather than to be heard whenever she comes She held her tongue until asked by her father or husband to speak then only good comforting words flowed from her mouth The ideal female displaced an Eminence in Modesty reserve purity temperance humility truth meekness patience courtesy affability charity goodness mercy and compassion Tender consoling she was viewed as a defenseless creature Womens weakness was viewed as the factor that made them more ignorant and Worthless Many English and American Puritans believed the virtuous woman should walk in the shadow of her male masters from the cradle to the grave A daughter owed almost complete allegiance to her fathers wishes He was to supervise whom she might choose as friends direct her to the service of others and remind her to keep constant watch over the state of her soul Whatever he commanded with exception of something sinful she was to obey The ideal daughter a girl who never read lust-inducing plays and romances
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