Productive Men, Reproductive Women: The Agrarian Household and the Emergence of Separate Spheres in the German Enlightenment

Productive Men, Reproductive Women: The Agrarian Household and the Emergence of Separate Spheres in the German Enlightenment

Productive Men, Reproductive Women: The Agrarian Household and the Emergence of Separate Spheres in the German Enlightenment

Productive Men, Reproductive Women: The Agrarian Household and the Emergence of Separate Spheres in the German Enlightenment

Excerpt

This book is about ideas that people in German-speaking Europe employed in order to give structure to their lives. It investigates a process through which society came to accept the belief that it was normal for men to be economic producers and for women to be active only in nonproductive activities, those often labeled "reproductive." These norms were essentially new in the nineteenth century, and they became deeply rooted. They accompanied the evolution of the phenomenon of the bourgeois housewife, who was economically dependent on her husband and confined to the private domain of the household. The nineteenth century witnessed the development of a cult of domesticity, an ideology decisive in anchoring the lives of women in the nonproductive household. Although rarely articulated systematically, this canon became powerful in configuring the lives of women and men.

Modern Gender Norms

Bourgeois gender norms of the nineteenth century prescribed strict roles for both females and males. Men were to be leaders in the public sphere, directing the affairs of the state, the new private enterprise economy, and the religious, military, and educa-

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