Women of the Puritan Society
What Life Was Like
- Main role was wife and mother
- Had to know how to spin yarn, knit, and sew clothes
- Cook all the food over a fire - uneven distribution of heat because they didnt have stoves made it much harder to cook food properly so they had to be very skilled in the kitchen.
- Gather herbs for food and medicine
- Cleaning and laundry
- Helping out in healing and medicine as well as childbirth of neighbors
- Teach children rudimentary reading and writing skills
- Educate children on prayers and church customs that were very important to Puritan culture and ensure their spiritual well being which was more important than physical well being.
- Puritans were required education because they believed that Satan would keep those couldn’t read from scriptures (however it was only for men)
- young girls didn’t receive formal education like their brothers did
- girls received education in household skills
- 1/3 women could sign their name, which was the accepted standard of literacy at that time
- Boys would learn skills and trade while girls would learn household and social skills
- A governess usually taught the girls enough reading, writing, and arithmetic to run a household and the social skills to attract a husband
Women and Religion
- Attended weekly meetings
- Believed that even though women were weak, they were very influential in the success of the minister and the church
- Women were the largest and most responsive attendants in the congregation
- Women were not allowed to pray publicly with the congregation
- Also not allowed to interpret the scriptures because they were considered not educated enough.
- women tried to feed family or gain dowry in order to marry-desirability of a woman depended on their dowry
- wealthier the family, easier for the woman to be married off
- parental consent was a huge part of marriages:
- women would lean on father for support and help for finding a husband
- women were encouraged to marry men who were able to provide financial aid and comfort for the wife
- God is the maker of marriages: couples seeking espousal should be active in prayer and seek God for whether or not their choice is good.
- Puritans had a high view of marriage, and men were encouraged to treat the women with compassion and treat them as lifelong friends
Childbirth and Motherhood
- Most had several children spaced about 2 years apart
- Pressure to teach the children and ensure they didn’t turn out like “brats”
- Mother, not the father, had the control over most decisions made about the children
- Believed that separating children from their mother at adolescence encouraged them to develop their superior relationship with God.
- Spent an average of 20 years of their lives pregnant or nursing
- women were considered weak in both the body and mind
- women tried to manipulate their “born roles” to fulfill their own goals and aspirations
- community leaders were men, accepted inferiority of women
- men reacted harshly to women who objected this role
- some women weren’t swayed to remain quiet