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Modern History

- Practise Essay Do these sources represent either change or continuity in gender roles and the
ideological beliefs that are used to justify them?
It’s undeniable that anywhere before the first wave of feminism, and arguably even the
second wave, it was normalised for women to be oppressed or not seen as a figure that
held any value outside the discourse of a man. This was largely due to the sources of
information and propaganda that was written about women, whether it be in the form of an
ad for home ware or kitchen ware, or preached through Catholicism, or even just inhered
values that surrounded our ideologies. The two given sources are an example of this
continuity in gender roles and the ideological beliefs, being monarchy and religion, used to
justify them.
Source 1, was published in 1622, and is an extract from Domestical Duties written by an
English Clergyman, William Gouge. It represents the ideology that the subjection required
of a wife is for her own good, and given the time period in which it is published, these
values and beliefs were widely accepted. Consequently, this source wasn’t anything ‘out-ofthe-ordinary’ to be proposed, and the demeaning manner in which it talks about women,
was regulated. The source was published in the 1600s, and was written by a Clergyman,
through the perils of religion and monarchy, he proposed that in refusing to obey, women
allow themselves to be both ungrateful to their husband, and also injurious to herself. He
uses the realms of the church, to create a power structure within the marriage, and
represents the wife as a servant to her king (her husband), with no ability or liability to
create thoughts or beliefs on her own account, for herself. That she relies dependently on
the teachings from her husband, when he states that the husband’s role is to be “a priest
to pray with her and for her, a Prophet to teach and instruct her”.
Contrary to source 1, source 2 introduces the idea that women are no longer a muse to be
taught by their king and god, but rather are the sole dependency and responsibility to
create a happy home and life for their king and god (their husband). So, while they were a
student to their husband in the previous source, now in the early 1900s, they are instead a
servant in their mind, body and soul to their family, and specifically spouse. In some ways
they are given more levels of respect, however are still treated disrespectfully in that realm
of respect. The source is an extract from The Ladies Handbook of Home Treatments, which
was a booklet that was passed down through generations of women. It is demeaning and
incredibly repressive in it’s bare essence of establishing the gender roles within the home,
however are written in such a way that it would have made the majority of women reader’s
accept this ideology without hesitation. The source was published in Australia between
1905 and 1960, and was co-authored by a male author and female author, given the time
period, the values and defined gender roles in which the extract presents, were a common,
and unquestioned binary of the time. The representation of these ‘sexist’ and offensive
‘rules’ that women ‘should’ and ‘must’ follow in order to be a sound wife, is executed
through race, and similarly to source 1, monarchy and religion. This is evident through
sentences such as “a special responsibility rests upon the young woman who is a promised
wife, and, if God wills it, a promised mother”, whereby the use of God and kingdoms are
still controlling the ideologies and ruling the roles that women ‘should’ obey to.