Cult of Domesticity Republican Motherhood By: Emily
What is the Cult of Domesticity Anyways?
It was a new ideal of womanhood and a new ideology about the home that arose out of the new attitudes about work and family. Called the "cult of domesticity," it is found in women's magazines, advice books, religious journals, newspapers, fiction--everywhere in popular culture. This new ideal provided a new view of women's duty and role while cataloging the cardinal virtues of true womanhood for a new age
There were 4 cardinal virtues that a woman was judged by: piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity
It arose from New Middle Class Post-Industrial Family
Religion or piety was the core of woman's virtue, the source of her strength. Young men looking for a mate were cautioned to search first for piety, for if that were there, all else would follow. Religion belonged to woman by divine right, a gift of God and nature
One reason religion was valued was that it did not take a woman away from her "proper sphere," her home. Unlike participation in other societies or movements, church work would not make her less domestic or submissive.
Purity was as essential as piety to a young woman--- its absence as unnatural and unfeminine. Without it she was, in fact, no woman at all, but a member of some lower order. A "fallen woman" was a "fallen angel," unworthy of the celestial company of her sex. To contemplate such loss of purity brought tears; to be guilty of such a crime, in the women’s magazines, at least, brought madness or death
Submission was perhaps the most feminine virtue expected of women, Men were supposed to be religious, although they rarely had time for it, and supposed to be pure, although it came awfully hard to them, but men were the movers, the doers, the actors. Women were the passive, submissive responders. The order of dialogue was of course, fixed in Heaven
The clothing that they wore emphasized passivity
Domesticity was among the virtues most prized by women’s magazines
One of the most important functions of woman as comforter was her role as nurse
Housework was supposed to be an uplifting task
Needlework and crafts approved duties;
Women make the home a refuge for men so that they can escape from the immoral world of business and industry
Godey’s Lady Book
It was the most widely circulated ladies magazine in the US and served as a guidance for women across the nation in how they should behave and what standards they should follow
ItEncouraged motherhood as a religious value;
Paintings and pictured depicted women in each of the four virtues;
Fashion stressed to make women attractive to husbands.
This stated that women were physically and intellectually inferior to men, giving men a reason to act superior to women
The characteristics of true manhood and womanhood and the separate spheres of male and female activity were believed to have a biological basis
with the growing emphasis being placed on republicanism, women were expected to partake in promoting these values - they had a "special role to play" in raising their children
American women were the primary caretakers of American children. If the republic were to succeed, women must be schooled in virtue so they could teach their children. The first American female academies were founded in the 1790s. This idea of an educated woman became known as republican motherhood.
Although the notion of republican motherhood initially encouraged women to pursue less of a public role, it eventually resulted in increased educational opportunities for American women
Women's role in society was altered by the American Revolution. Women who ran households in the absence of men became more assertive
As in the case of the abolition of slavery, changes for women would not come overnight. But the American Revolution ignited these changes. Education and respect would lead to the emergence of a powerful, outspoken middle class of women.