Women's Roles During Times of War Essay

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Women's Roles During Times of War

Despite the prevalence of war goddesses in most traditions from China to Greece to Ireland, women have been separated from the front lines of war for centuries. Western tradition claims that women are not made for war, but for household work: sewing, cleaning, cooking, and looking after children. Society told women to carry brooms in lieu of swords; to collect firewood instead of ammunition, and to keep house rather than protect a nation. Yet, for centuries, women have fought their peoples' wars, even if they never lifted a sword or fired a rifle.

We rarely hear of these women, though, because they were not on the front line. The AAS Online Exhibitions claims, "The term "war hero" usually refers to
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Women boycotted other goods and did their best to support their soldiers2. Some women were forced to host British soldiers, known as Red Coats, in their homes3, but they forbore and awaited the end of the war and the return of their husbands and sons as free, independent men.

Other Revolutionary War women chose to leave the comforts of their homes behind and join the men at war. It was rare for a woman to take up arms and fight as a soldier, but they did as best they could, given their strict social roles. A prime example of this is Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, better known as Molly Pitcher. She followed her soldier husband as he fought. Molly Pitcher earned her title at the Battle of Monmouth when she brought water to the fallen soldiers on the field4. Women were so taken with following the soldiers' camp that the Women of the American Revolution calls the Camp-Followers "one of Washington's head-aches5."

As was traditional during times of war, women took over their husbands' roles during the American Revolution. Women learned to manage businesses, schools6, and farms. They boarded enemy soldiers, taught schools, conducted letter writing campaigns7, and enacted political activity. Yet, all of this came to a halt when the Americans won the war and the British retreated. The rights these brave women had
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