Cahn 1987

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cahn, Susan. Industry of Devotion: The Transformation of Women's Work in England, 1500-1660. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

"the changes in politics, in economics, and in religion are the context in which the changes in womens' lives must be understood, and equally that to understand the political, economic, and religious changes traditionally deemed significant, it is necessayr to examine the changes in the sex-gender system." (1)
"The basic argument is that women's position in society, measured by status and opportunities, declined both absolutely and relative to that of men during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England and that the decline, far from being either natural or inevitable, was the result of a complex interaction of social, political, and economic forces." (4)

The Beginning of a New Age: Social Stratification and Order

Women and the New Economic Order

"femme sole" -- "granted married women the rights and status of single women before the law" (36); enabled married women to operate businesses independently of their husbands and control assets; freed husbands from liability for wives' debts

shift to market society; housewives at 1500 did most of the tasks related to household (food, clothing, medicine), which they needed a certain knowledge/education/access for; by 1650, many were delegating tasks, filling these basic needs at the market (44)

"The increasing availability and relative cheapness of wage labor allowed even small masters to afford to employ journeymen laborers rather than to rely on their wives as their primary helpers." (47)
"The cumulative effect of these changes in traditional social relations and household patterns of production and consumption was to deprive the housewife of many of her traditional tasks as well as of the prestige within her family and society which she had once won by her success in meeting household needs through her accomplishment of them." The social perceptions of what was occurring increased the devaluation of women caused by the actual erosion of their housewifely role, since, while the failure of many wives to perform their traditional tasks and achieve their traditional results was obvious to contemporary eyes, the reasons for the failures were not obvious. Women had not, after all, won prestige because their labor was so prestigious -- the prestige of labor, as will be seen, was only beginning to be recognized -- but rather because the fruits of their labor resulted in the family's well-being. And it was the lack of these fruits, not women's failure to perform any specific tasks, for which contemporaries condemned women." (48-9)
"Before the 16c, women had been prominently and prestigiously employed in various textile crafts, as both part-time and full-time workers. But by 1650, those textile crafts in which women predominated were not prestigious. As a general rule, in fact, the more predominantly female the trade, the lower its social prestige and remuneration. Even silk-weaving, which in the 15th and 16th centuries had included aristocratic women among its practitioners, had sunk to the level of a poorly paid and poorly esteemed occupation." (53)

transfer from woman housewife weaving to male professional weaver; evidence that groups of male weavers petitioned the king to bar women from the trade

spinning was still women's work, but "remained the stereotypical by-industry" (54) -- an activity women could pick up or discard at will

"The ability of women, moreover, to perform general tasks on the periphery of the textile trade such as sewing, laundering, and starching reinforced the trend toward the 'socialization' of such tasks, the removal of them from the privat household to the market." (55)
"by about 1650, the trades in which women predominated were characterized by low pay and low prestige. The trades did require skills, but the skills involved were disparaged by society: after all, if any woman could spin, then spinning could not be special. Much of 'woman's work' did involve low levels of productivity and required many hours of work to realize a profit or product. The work was, generally, of a kind which cou60)ld easily be interrupted and started again, giving women who worked for wages the opportunity to do so in moment free from housewifery." (60)

Women and Place

17c treatises on marriage "define married women as the recipients of a good and not as participants in doing good" (71)

Margaret Hoby; country vs city duties

Grace Mildmay

early 17c, switch toward putting wife's free time to use in decorative tasks (Hugh Plat's instructions e.g.) (103-4)

motherhood as special vocation; increased injunctions to breastfeed

Alice Thornton

Anne Fanshawe

Mulcaster, humanist education for Elizabethan women

Nicholas Breton, recommends translation as an activity for housewives (111)

Lucy Hutchinson

"decline in esteem suffered by housewives in the 17c" (117)

"The effects of the debasement of the housewife's work and circumscription of her authority were felt by women of all social classes. A woman who continued to perform traditional housewifery did so in a changed environment, one which denigrated her labor rather than elevating it." (124)

Legendary Hearts: Women in the Family

Protestant raising up of the family as the central unit of Christian society (rather than a "not-quite-pious alternative to purgatory") (126)

"Marriage rose in social esteem partly because women fell, and the new articulation of women's place in marriage and the behavior suitable to that place assumed this fall." (128)

chastity as a woman's wealth (143)