In the 18th and 19th centuries America went through market revolution, which influenced the gender roles socially, economically, and politically. During this revolution, both North and South America experienced different forms of industrialization, which broadened the scientific innovations and arts. Transportation and the scientific revolution profoundly changed the American economy from the scattered, independent regions, to a unified national economy. As a result of the spread and advancement in technology, there was overall rise in the market economy. Women were greatly empowered by this transformation. The revolution opened more opportunities for women and reduced the challenges they were going through previously. Women’s empowerment was portrayed politically, socially, and economically in the different levels. Rise in the market economy resulted to individual and collective American women’s empowerment (Hoffman 57)
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Before this revolution, a woman’s role in the society was limited to housekeeping and raising children. The traditional household production by women was reduced. Women were not given a chance by the society to contribute economically. The social settings allowed only men to perform economic, viable activities leaving women at the confinement of the kitchen. A home was viewed as a place where a woman would nurture her family to be morally elevated, and a man would provide for all the economic needs. Subsistence farming declined, women concentrated on commercialization of their economic life. Market revolution led to introduction of cotton gins thus farming in cotton plantations rose rapidly. Factories were opened, and textiles were now manufactured in the mills. Women could work in the mills and specialize on a specific task. This drastically reduced the amount of time they spent in their traditional homes and raised their productivity economically (Sellers 91).
Rise in the market economy gave women financial independence. Working in the mills meant they could earn wages on their own. An average American woman no longer needed to depend fully on her husband for financial support. They could now contribute towards educating their children and improving the living standard of their families. This revolution was a major liberation for women from economical constrains experienced previously in the American society. Women earned profits from the cottage industry, spinning and home crafts, businesses and cash crops this led to more participation in the market economy (Coughlin, Thomas 34).
Relieved from the traditional conceptions of social mobility, opportunities created by the expanded market economy were embraced by women. They applied their increased power and financial independence in key decision making and social reforms outside their homes. This gave women power to influence on the American social and political status.
During the market revolution, the U.S. army officers were also transformed from the brutal and unapproachable military officers to affectionate fathers and companionable husbands. They encouraged the business and educational aspirations of their female kin. This reduced the inequalities of domesticity and constrains that the female kin were experiencing previously. Women’s empowerment was evident, female kin did not only have the authority and control over their decisions, and aspirations in business and education, but they also enjoyed the support from their husbands, fathers and relatives in the military (Watson 81).
Previously men were considered superior to women. In all ways, in the world of strict patriarchal hierarchy women were supposed to observe the doctrine of separate spheres. They were not allowed give an opinion in political, moral, financial or domestic issues. They were expected to follow the men’s decision whether right or wrong without questioning. During the rise in the market economy, Americans experienced a revolution in the definition of gender. The old fashioned way of viewing gender roles, which were oppressive and biased towards women were no longer followed. This was liberation for women who could now make key decisions in the family, workplaces, and in the society. A sort of equality was achieved (Johnson, Wilentz 47).
Market revolution changed the definition of happiness and satisfaction. Women previously were happy and satisfied if the harvests from their subsistence farming were enough for their domestic use. Market revolution led to large scale farming, where average women worked hard to get more profits to buy land and increase the size of their plantations. Working class women were more concerned about their safety and welfare in their places of work. Exercising their independence in decision making women could move from exploitive work places to the factories with better working conditions (Khosa 82).
Therefore, it is evident that market revolution played a major role in closing the gender gap and bringing women into the global economic standard. This was a very critical step towards the economic stability and prosperity that America has enjoyed for many years. It expanded women’s freedom of choice and action. As a result of the rise of the market economy major transport revolutions, innovations, and fast advancement in technology, American women have continually been empowered and they can now compete globally.
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