Cult of Domesticity

Category: Domestic
Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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Were the "cult of domesticity" and the rise of the child centered family signs of an improvement or a restriction in women's status and condition (1790-1860)

The "Cult of Domesticity" also known as the "cult of true womanhood" developed as family lost its function as economic unit. Prior to the late 1700's the family worked together to make whatever was needed to survive. Women and children's contributions to the family were as important as the males. The surfacing of a market economy where males were able to make a living at professions other than farming changed the way the family unit functioned. With the new system children were able to stay at home which forced the women to have to stay home as well to care for them.

Another support for the appearance of child-centered families and the "cult of domesticity" was the emergence of a new class, which became known as the middle class. The middle class did not need to make what it needed to survive. Men were able to leave the home to make money to support the family, which became the standard. A woman's life in this time period was divided into her domestic duties and her duty to learn social skills, and she was not allowed to enter the public realm of life dominated by men. That was considered unladylike. Women who dared were usually exploited. Most women remained in the home, as a sort of cultural hostage and thus assigning women to unpaid domestic labor.

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The rising ideals of nineteenth-century in America redefined women's roles in all classes not just the middle class. Though women were no longer expected to work outside the home this placed greater significance on a male's ability to earn enough money to make his wife's labor outside the home unnecessary. This devalued women's contributions outside the home.

The "cult of domesticity" was a byproduct of the nineteenth century's Industrial Revolution and the movement away from the homestead into big cities. This family pattern not only devalued women of all classes it also demoralized working class men, who had the burden of being the wage earner with employment that did not always provide adequately. (Landry) The women of this class had their workload in many cases double they continued to farm or take care of the homestead, which used to be the males role, while at the same time keeping up with their housework and the duties of a mother.

Male dominance and female submissiveness was a result of the" cult of domesticity". There were less restrictions and more equality in the pre industrial era. Work was carried out within the family unit. The family unit, which included male and female, engaged in common objectives and responsibilities that help connect them as a family. With the onset of the male leaving to make a living this put the male more in control and diminished the females role in the family unit to lesser valued activities.

There were more restrictions placed on females during this time period than males. A female's status was lowered to one of unpaid and under appreciated labor. The conditions of females were only important if it had a negative impact of the male of the house. Society used social, economic, and political restrictions to reinforce the woman's place in the home.

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Cult of Domesticity. (2017, Dec 02). Retrieved from

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