Friday Feminist – Sarah M Grimke (2)

Cross posted

There is another and much more numerous class in this country, who are withdrawn by education or circumstances from the circle of fashionable amusements, but who are brought up with the dangerous and absurd idea, that marriage is a kind of preferment; and that to be able to keep their husband’s house, and render his situation comfortable, is the end of her being. Much that she does and says and thinks is done in reference to this situation; and to be married is too often held up to the view of girls as the sine qua non of human happiness and human existence. For this purpose more than for any other, I verily believe the majority of girls are trained. This is demonstrated by the imperfect education which is bestowed upon them, and the little pains taken to cultivate their minds, after they leave school, by the little time allowed them for reading, and by the idea being constantly inculcated, that although all household concerns should be attended to with scrupulous punctuality at particular seasons, the improvement of their intellectual capacities is only a secondary consideration, and may serve as an occupation to fill up the odds and ends of time. In most families, it is considered a matter of far more consequence to call a girl off from making a pie, or a pudding, than to interrupt her whilst engaged in her studies. This mode of training necessarily exalts, in their view, the animal above the intellectual and spiritual nature, and teaches women to regard themselves as a kind of machinery, necessary to keep the domestic engine in order, but of little value as the intelligent companions of men.

Sarah M Grimke, Letter VIII: On the Condition of Women in the United States, 1837


One response to “Friday Feminist – Sarah M Grimke (2)

  1. When my two where youngsters still at home I made a concious decision to lean ‘just a little heavier’ on my son, than my daughter, in the matter of household chores. And I leant a little heavier on him in the matter of learning some domestic skills. I remember grinning to myself and hoping that I would like my (at that time) theoretical daughter-in-law, because she would be getting a good-natured young bloke who could cook, and understood the workings of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, even in emergencies a sewing machine, could iron his own duds, and had grasped the concept that the way you HANG clothes out to dry can affect the amount of effort you have to put into the ironing.
    He has never since used his sewing machine ‘skills’, but he can turn his hand to any domestic task and is a bloody good cook.
    Oh, and by the way, my daughter-in-law is a darling, and cannot believe her luck, even 19 years later. And he is an excellent role model for his own son.
    Drag either child away from study or reading – I don’t think so!!
    Gae. in Callalal Bay