Traditionally women played an important role in any societies. At the same time, their position has not been always appreciated and even more women were often discriminated. in such a situation, the position of women in colonial societies seems to be particularly difficult because, unlike men, they suffered dubious oppression from the part of men and from socio-cultural oppression of colonizers. Nonetheless, despite oppression and hardships women faced they still managed to succeed in enduring certain differences between three opposite sexes that also contributed dramatically to their significance for human society. Moreover, they constantly struggle for their rights, personal freedom, independence and better social position regardless all discriminating measures that were implemented in the society. In this respect women are practically unstoppable and, despite significant differences in their position in different epochs, they never stopped their struggle and still keep it going.
Also it should be pointed out that women played a significant role for the shaping of the contemporary America, its culture and socio-economic development.
Since the first years of European colonization women were responsible for such traditional domains as housing and the welfare of their family. At the same time, it is necessary to remember about their contribution to the increase of American population of early settlement that stimulated expansion, ethnic diversification and cultural diversity in colonized territories.
The role of women in early colonial society is particularly striking in the conditions of men domination who surpassed women not only in power but in number as well.
There was a distinct difference between the southern colonies and the New England where women population was significantly larger. Moreover, in this territory women had more freedom, while Southern women and African-American slaves had less freedom basically occupying with household and taking care of children. It should be pointed out that marriages at early age were a norm of that epoch for colonial women. As a rule, the death of a husband led to remarriage of a woman.
Not surprisingly that in such a situation colonial families were numerous because of high birthrates that contributed to the general growth of population in colonies.
Furthermore, women also played an important role in religious life of society in New England. For instance, the majority of Puritan congregation constituted women. It is also noteworthy that superstitions and stories made up by young women affected dramatically the minds of early settlers of New England, especially in Salem, Massachusetts. The Salem Witch Trial “reflected the widening social stratification of New England, as well as the anxieties of many religious traditionalists that the Puritan heritage was being eclipsed by Yankee commercialism.”
Not surprisingly, a number of colonial women were accused in performing witchcraft and were sentenced to death. Such accidents contributed to the growing tension between the leaders of many colonial communities on the basis of religious and social standing.
Fortunately, after several years such trials were successfully prohibited and women were more secured.
In the meantime, the geographical discoveries and exploration of new territories led to the rapid growth of slave trade worldwide, including America. In such a situation southern territories where slave labor was highly required a great number of African slaves, including women were brought to the New World. African women as well as white women traditionally focused on housework but their sufferings because of oppression and regular abuse were incomparable to those of white women. In fact, it is even possible to state that they were at the lowest level of social hierarchy of society in that epoch. In such a way, it is possible to speak that there was a significant difference between women of different races and origin in colonial society.
Nowadays, there are a lot of female organizations that protect rights and social position of women. Nowadays, as well as in the past, women strive for better social position, equality with men and active participate in socio-economic and political life of society.
The aspiration of the women to independence to arise of the “feminist movement”. About this I read a novel “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. This book about a yang woman who cannot reach her goals in our male-dominated society. This book was published in 1963, towards the beginning of the “feminist movement”. The events chronicled in this novel take place in 1953, in a period during which women’s rights were not yet widely recognized in our society. Sylvia Plath shows us the ways in which women were discriminated against.
1. Sylvia, Plath “The Bell Jar.” 1963.