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How did gender issues change in America during the Enlightenment?

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kukabura1 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 28, 2011 at 4:18 AM via web

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How did gender issues change in America during the Enlightenment?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 28, 2011 at 4:55 AM (Answer #1)

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The American Enlightenment is a term used for the period of cultural growth following the American Revolution. During the 18th century, norms changed in many ways, including the rejection of Monarchy and the reacquisition of religion as a spiritual force for good instead of a government entity.

In regards to gender issues, much of the progress made in America was overshadowed by the perceived larger issue of slavery, but there were still movements and debate. Education for women saw a vast increase, and women became schooled in subjects that had been culturally prohibited. Many women became authors, as writing was not seen as solely Man's Work. Property rights were still transferred to men in marriage until around 1840. As women were an integral part of farming, they began to see more recognition of their labor. Social gatherings became more equal as women gained status, and in 1756 Lydia Taft was the first woman given the right to vote; suffrage for the majority of women would not be granted until 1918.

Enlightenment took time and effort to change society, and gender issues are only one part of the whole. Still, they played a vital role in the ongoing movement to recognize every living human as equal in rights and potential.

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