Comment on the effects that the idea of "separate spheres" had on gender and the family.  

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Basically, the idea of "separate spheres" for men and women led to the idea that a man's proper place was as the "breadwinner" while women should be homemakers and concentrate on raising children. The idea has a long history, but was first really expressed in the eighteenth century. It really caught on, however, with the rise of industry and a market economy in the nineteenth century, however. It applied mostly to middle-class women, as working class mothers could not afford to stay home. Long considered more vulnerable to temptation, women were cast as the more moral sex, and thus given responsibility for inculcating children with moral values. Called the "cult of domesticity" or "cult of true womanhood" in the United States, this ideology was promulgated by ministers as well as prescriptive literature aimed at the middle classes. The ideal woman became one who managed a household (but did not control it) and who raised children. 


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