Abstract or Introduction
This paper deals with the images of women in American History, specifically the image of the woman from “Heroine of the West” and “Rosie the Riveter”. To argue my thesis, I will first of all engage with a closer reading on certain aspects of excerpts from Catherine Beecher’s A Treatise of Domestic Economy. Here I will point out how Beecher idealizes the role of the woman on the Frontier, creating an image of women in the domestic sphere that is not at all questioned, but rather encouraged. Then, I will take a look at the image of “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II that became the popular symbol of the strong, working woman who supported the nation during this difficult time. I will connect my findings to indicate women’s lasting role as the backbone of the nation and how their role shifted according to what was needed, but always to ensure the well-being of the nation and never primarily to benefit their own advancement.
Throughout America’s history, the American woman has played a major role in ensuring the nation’s moral and domestic well-being. Catherine Beecher in her text A Treatise on Domestic Economy also points to this important role of the woman on the Frontier and her contribution to the success of the Frontier and American expansionism. The women’s sphere was systematically idealized and romanticized, whereas the question of real equality to men was to be avoided. Women were, besides their practical functions as mothers, wives, and housekeepers, the promoters of American values and embodied these values in their domestic sphere. Kaplan related the concept of the domestic sphere of women to its relationship with nationalism and imperialism. Basically, the domestic sphere of women played and still plays a big role in creating the sense of a nation and at-homeness in contrast to the foreign, external world.
It can be said that women were basically the ones who mostly held the nation together and helped to keep it together especially in times of conflict or in the case of the Frontier in times of hardship. During World War II then, the focus of women as the backbone of America as a nation was not so much on their role in the household, but as active members of the workforce, as men were scarce on the “home front”. Therefore, it can be noted that American women’s roles had to shift throughout American history, according to the needs of the nation.
- Quote paper
- Katharina Gerhardt (Author), 2018, Images of the American Woman. From "Heroine of the West" on the Frontier to "Rosie the Riveter" on the Home Front, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/924273