Schlissel Essay Sample

Schlissel Essay Sample

… femininity that surrounded 19th-century womanhood was that women were perceived as essentially weak. But frontier women were not weak, and even their desire to see themselves as feminine could not prevent them from seeing themselves also as powerful if not precisely empowered. Their understanding of their own strength and the contradictions that this created for them in wishing to see themselves as the kind of women that they once were and the kind of women that they were raised to believe in as models for the sex had to be resolved by each individual on her own, but Schlissel suggests that one common strategy was for these women to defer their sense of femininity. They would return to being the kind of dainty ladies their mothers had raised them to be at some point in the future, when the initial work of building a home in the West was done. This allowed these women both to be strong in the present and to preserve whatever sense of femininity was important for them. It also allowed them to acknowledge their own physical and psychological strength – attributes that did not accord with then-current ideals of femininity but certainly must have …

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