WGS222 Danielle Hernandez February 9, 2012 Discussion Paper 3

Throughout the 19th century, men were unknowingly putting power into women¶s hands. They were told that they were the better sex- more moral and upright- in order to keep them submissive. But what they didn¶t expect was for women to take this idea and turn it into a serious duty. The New York Female Moral Reform Society took it to a new level. In effect, could it be said that it was the men who created a collective identity for the beginning of a woman¶s movement? Each time men told women that they were one ³species´ and men another, they were packing them into a stereotype. All women are religious. All women are moral. All women are housekeepers. All women can be allowed to act as nurse. No women should lead themselves into temptation. Slowly but surely, women, from understanding this collectively, were building themselves an identity. This identity was a foundation, built by fathers, husbands, and sons, for the emerging women¶s movement. This concept is clearly evident in the FMRS. Men were appalled by the fact that these pious, evangelical, ladies were partaking in activities that wouldn¶t be considered ladylike. Yet these women argued that it was ladylike. They were doing exactly what men told them they needed to do. They were upholding a moral order that they were led to believe could not exist without women. It seems that men¶s intent had gone awry. Bit by bit, the idea spread and splintered off. Women could congregate and act on society¶s faults; however, these faults were

evolving from what men made them see as problematic to what they learned to be problematicnamely, their own status in society. One would have to consider other things that factored into the fledgling women¶s social movements because there is no one cause. However, it is obvious that a establishing a collective identity is part of the necessary steps towards organization and men certainly made women¶s collective identity apparent.

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