The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities

By Dolores Hayden | Go to book overview

3 Feminism in Model Households

Female Self-Sacrifice and the Home

In 1840, Americans received the first translations of Charles Fourier's work and saw the first views of his phalanstery, a neoclassical palace full of mechanical inventions celebrated by utopian socialists and feminists for the next sixty years. In 1841, in her Treatise on Domestic Economy, Catharine Beecher published the first of her designs for Gothic cottages full of mechanical inventions. While Fourier argued for social services to help women, Beecher argued for women's self-sacrifice and domestic isolation. Yet there are more similarities than first appear. Both were interested in increasing women's power; both believed that new domestic environments were necessary to support women's new roles in an industrial society. Fourier and his followers saw women coming together with men in the phalanstery, while Beecher preferred the private suburban house where women derived their power from training their children and providing shelter for men from the world of urban work. She became the ultimate domestic feminist, demanding women's control over all aspects of domestic life.

Beecher (3.1), the spinster daughter of a Congregationalist minister, was born in 1800. In 1831 she produced her first book, The Elements of Mental and Moral Philosophy, Founded Upon Experience, Reason, and the Bible, which launched her life-long argument for the moral superiority of women based upon their highly developed capacity for self-sacrifice. In 1836, in a long essay celebrating the differences between male and female character, she introduced and elaborated now familiar stereotypes of gender. She began work in that same year on her Treatise on Domestic Economy, For the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School, which incorporated many of these ideas and was eventually published in 1841. Sklar estimates its effect: Beecher "exaggerated and heightened gender differences and thereby altered and romanticized the emphasis given to women's domestic role." 1 Unlike her earlier philosophical writings, which suffered from the stigma of female authorship, her Treatise was an immediate, popular success, running through yearly editions, adopted as a school text, a classic succeeded only by her even more popular work, The American Woman's Home, coauthored with her sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, in 1869.

The success of Beecher's Treatise and all of her subsequent domestic publications centered upon her agile definitions of female dominance in the home. Earlier American works on domestic economy assumed that men retained control of the typical middle-class household, including women, children, and servants, but as Sklar has noted, Beecher broke with this tradition tentatively in the Treatise and decisively in the American Woman's Home. 2 While she accepted a conventional definition of the domestic world as woman's sphere, she established herself as a leading advocate of domestic feminism by claiming that woman's greater capacity for

-55-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 376

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.