From Man Cannot Speak for Her:

“The concept of ‘true womanhood,’ or the ‘woman belle ideal,’ defined females as ‘other,’ as suited only for a limited repertoire of gender-based roles, and as the repository of cherished but commercially useless spiritual and human values. These attitudes rose in response to the urbanization and industrialization of the nineteenth century, which separated home and work. As the cult of domesticity was codified in the United States in the early part of the century, two distinct subcultures emerged. Man’s place was the world outside the home, the public realm of politics and finance; man’s nature was thought to be lustful, amoral, competitive, and ambitious. Woman’s place was the home, a haven from amoral capitalism and dirty politics, where ‘the heart was,’ where the spiritual and emotional needs of husband and children were met by a ‘ministering angel.’ Woman’s nature was pure, pious, domestic, and submissive. She was to remain entirely in the private sphere of the home, eschewing any appearance of individuality, leadership, or aggressiveness. Her purity depended on her domesticity; the woman who was compelled by economic need or slavery to work away from her own hearth was tainted. However, women’s alleged moral superiority generated a conflict out of which the woman’s rights movement emerged.

As defined, woman’s role contained a contradiction that became apparent as women responded to what they saw as great moral wrongs. Despite their allegedly greater moral sensitivity, women were censured for their efforts against the evils of prostitution and slavery.”

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