Mary Freeman's The Revolt of Mother and the Domestic Feminist

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The late nineteenth century was a critical time in reshaping the rights of women. Commonly this era is considered to be the beginning of what is know to western feminists as “first-wave feminism.” First-wave feminism predominately fought for legal rights such as suffrage, and property rights. A major hallmark of first-wave feminism is the concept of the “New Woman.” The phrase New Woman described educated, independent, career oriented women who stood in response to the idea of the “Cult of Domesticity,” that is the idea that women are meant to be domestic and submissive (Stevens 27). Though the concept of the New Woman was empowering to many, some women did not want to give up their roles as housewives. These women felt there was a great…show more content…
It is worth noting “the central Christian characteristic of truthfulness, for religious integrity is a foundational characteristic of Sarah Penn's life, and religious hypocrisy is the main charge she levels against her husband” (White 84). We can see this holds true based on the justifications behind their intentions. The main reason Sarah seems to want a new house is so that Nanny, their daughter, can have the wedding she deserves, while the only justification we can infer about why Adoniram wants to build the new barn is profit. This description of patriarchy as religious hypocrisy is powerful in justifying resistance in the mind of the domestic housewife. It creates a way of understanding feminist resistance as more than rejection of traditional values, and instead as a religiously justified moral paradigm. While the story does present biblical righteousness as a powerful tool of dissent it recognizes its limitations as well. Simply asking for what she wanted did not get Sarah the new house her family needed. It was critical that she took advantage of Adoniram's absence. Not only does his absence create the opportunity for her to act without him preventing it, but it also gives her an opportunity to make her resistance public. Without her claiming agency publicly, her resistance would have been futile. It

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