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The "Ideal" Woman

             Throughout history women have been bombarded with unattainable expectations, and the nineteenth century made no effort to stray from this continuum. American women were held to ideals that that were inappropriate for the changing times and were often asked to go above and beyond the very high standards previously set by the male dominated culture. However, due to the tenacity of a few women, and the coming together of many, the female minority was able to have its voice heard. .
             The set of ideals was categorized under a certain title of "womanhood". Broken into four sections, the ideals included piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. Piety, showing display of religious dedication and morality, was crucial, because at this point in history women were considered more moral and religious then men. Their duty, therefore, was to bring men to God and morality. This moral superiority of women was a switch from the previous Puritan view of women, mostly due to the influence of the Second Great Awakening. Most of the converts of the Second Great Awakening were women because they had not been given the chance to participate in the First Great Awakening, and were eager to be involved. .
             Which potentially led them to have the more moral, God abiding image, that was so attractive for an ideal woman. Purity, remaining a virgin until marriage, was the second ideal that only women were subjected to uphold. Since women were supposedly uninterested in sex except for reproductive purposes, this was seen as an easy ideal to uphold. Not only was purity a difficult task to uphold, but once marriage occurred and sex was socially permitted, a new form of difficulty emerged. For women, sex was supposed to be solely about childbirth, however, in the nineteenth century, childbirth was many times a dangerous procedure. It has been said that in 1800's, the average woman gave birth to seven children, and for every forty women one would die while giving birth.

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