Inequality in American Society from 1815 to 1860 Essay

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One of the greatest barriers between women and equality during the antebellum era was the doctrine of separate spheres. The doctrine coined two distinctive spheres: the one of men and that of women. Men, physically and mentally stronger, were considered to be suitable for the world politics, work and war. Women, on the other hand, with the nature of being soft and delicate, were linked to domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and motherhood. Prior to the Antebellum period, as most American families led a harsh and tough farm life where field work and domestic chores were closely related, the distinction between the two spheres were marginal and women were also considered to be just as vigorous and resilient as men. However, as the …show more content…
This put women who wanted such relationship in a dilemma: either to get married and lose control of their properties or to keep their affairs in secret and risk facing fierce disapproval of the society if words got out. It is worth noting that New York gave married women complete control over their properties in 1848. However, it was the only state to do so at the time.
In addition to restricted property rights, women were also subjected to many other limits of their legal status. One of such limits was their right to vote. For a long time, women had been the outcasts of the political world. They had no voting right; and holding office was just a mere fantasy. As the doctrine of separate spheres pointed out, antebellum-women were expected to stay home, take care of domestic chores and look after the children. Thus, this “imprisonment” left them nearly clueless of what was happening in the society outside their home, preventing them from involving in the world of politics. Another legal restraint for women was their inability to testify against their husbands. As stated before, once married, the legal identity of a woman merged with her husband’s. Therefore, since the couple was considered to be a single legal entity, she could not testify against her husband, even in the case the husband committed a crime against her relatives. Additionally, the right to hold custody of their children was also taken away

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