Women in Stuart England and America: A Comparative Study

Women in Stuart England and America: A Comparative Study

Women in Stuart England and America: A Comparative Study

Women in Stuart England and America: A Comparative Study

Excerpt

You've come a long way, baby, To get where you've got to today! You've got your own cigarette now, lady! You've come a long, long way!

These immortal lines provided the refrain for one of the more urbane advertising campaigns on American television in recent years. The accompanying film sequences compared reckless Edwardian matrons, caught by scandalised husbands, secretly puffing in attics and gazebos, with cool contemporary cookies who demanded a slim, well-tailored cigarette, 'not the fat ones that men smoke'. The provision of Virginia Slims was seen by the advertisers as the climax of the liberation of American women which had begun with the suffragettes.

This book examines whether the commercial's 'long way' was not in fact a great deal longer than the copywriters claimed. Its approach is comparative. The situation of women in the seventeenth-century colonies is contrasted with that of women in England. Had women in America by the end of the first century of settlement come to enjoy a higher status in society and to perform different roles from those of their cousins in the old country? If so, what were the causes of this improvement in their lot? Finally, how was their emancipation manifested in the colonial culture, and was it a permanent feature of American life, or merely the product of the unsettling years of settlement?

Like Gaul, my attempt to answer these questions is divided into three parts. The first part of the book examines contemporary responses to the perennial 'woman question'. The second part looks at four major factors which could have contributed to the differences in women's treatment and opportunity between England and the colonies. The final part compares specific institutions and practices on the two sides of the Atlantic to see whether the four factors of contrast had their predicted effects.

One of the perennial fascinations of American history is the investigation of what national characteristics are distinctively . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.