How were women treated during the colonial period? What types of behaviors were acceptable and what types of behaviors were not acceptable?Primary...

1 Answer

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The primary source that you give for this really tells us very little about the role of women in colonial society.  It reflects only some amount of astonishment about women killing Indians who had attacked a fishing boat.  This implies that women were not expected to be assertive and violent.  We can infer that the witness thinks that the women's behavior was unusual and perhaps unacceptable because it shows them stepping out of their usual role.  But beyond that, this source tells us nothing about women's roles in daily life or anything like that.

In general, women were very much subordinated to men in colonial America.  They had to work just as hard as men did because of the nature of colonization.  However, they did not enjoy the same kinds of legal rights that men did.  Their legal status was essentially that of wards of their husbands.  Girls did not get the same kind of educational opportunities that boys did.  Women were simply seen as inferior in a variety of ways.