Feminist Feminism

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In the early 19th century, American society was patriarchal, restricting the roles ascribed to women. This patriarchy oppressed women in the social, religious, and political realms, restricting how they could express themselves, what positions they could hold, and stripping their legal rights. Because of this, seditious women began to express their dissatisfaction with the patriarchy, becoming the spark of the feminist movement. As part of this spark, Judith Sargent Murray wrote “On the Equality of the Sexes”, while Sara Willis Parton, more commonly referred to by her pseudonym Fanny Fern, wrote “Hints to Young Wives” and “Independence”, documents which articulated the worth of women beyond the realm of the domestic sphere. While Judith Sargent Murray counters widely accepted generalizations and subverts the patriarchy through a poem, Fanny Fern employs irony and articulates the desire for political power, to challenge the patriarchy and “wake [their] neighbors up”. In addition to the patriarchy, many Americans supported the notion that women were to be confined to the cult of domesticity. These domestic beliefs set strict social, religious, and political expectations for women. In “Notes on The Cult of Domesticity and True Womanhood”, Catherine Lavender describes “four characteristics [that] any good and proper young woman should cultivate: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness” (Lavender 1). The religious expectations of women were heavily reinforced, ensuring

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