Jane Fern : Challenging Gender Stereotypes

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Fanny Fern: Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Marriage
For centuries, doctrinal books have been used as guidebooks on how to react to certain aspects of life, such as marriage; in the website Family Life, for example, it is stated that “…the Scriptures are clear about the unique responsibilities God assigns to a wife,” signaling that women are to follow the implied expectations that God left for them in the Bible (Rainey). However, writers such as Fanny Fern often argued against traditional gender roles. Originally named Sarah Willis Parton, Fern was born during 1811 and became literate because she had an educated father who encouraged independent thinking in his household (Levine 892). To support her family as a single mother, Fern began
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Fern explained that a wife will “Hear of him at eleven o’clock, taking an ice-cream with some ladies at a confectioner’s, while you are at home new-lining his coat-sleeves,” yet when she “…[asks] him to leave you a ‘little money,’ he looks at you as if to be sure that you are in your right mind…” (“Aunt Hetty…” 894). With this illustration, Fanny Fern was able to inform her audience that, once a girl marries, she will be left caring for a husband who will show her no appreciation for her diligence. During the 19th century, it was believed that women were meant to stay at home and take care of their husband and children while the men were free to take part in any social activities. Per writing “Aunt Hetty on Matrimony,” Fern denounced the wrongs of marriage and the injustice that wives experienced during her time. With the addition of comedic lines such as “O, girls! set your affections on cats, poodles, parrots, or lapdogs,” the author captured her readers’ attention yet managed to inform them of the harsh demands that women were to follow and the lack of recognition they received from their husbands (Fern 895). By placing the recommendation at the end of “Aunt Hetty on Matrimony,” Fern ended the piece with a personal tone that contained the potential to enthrall the readers who felt touched by her work.
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