Since the early centuries woman have always had a significant role in growth and prosperity of any society. These roles have greatly cross varied dependent on period, people race, geography and culture of people. In the colonial era women had a harsh time, by the time a woman reached an age of 25 years she was expected to be married and have at least having a child. Most, if not all, of the household responsibilities were carried out by women. Women were supposed to perform these responsibilities without any legal acknowledgement.
Role Colonial Women Played in Family Life
Woman had to go through many hardships, their personal life was becoming less constrained, however the change was taking place at a snail’s speed. Colonial women life was a mix of freedom and imprisonment in their families (Cecil & Mercer 2005).Women numbers were large to those of men. Any women had liberty in choosing a husband; they could marry those men who could provide benefits in marriage. A woman did not marry a husband who would mistreat her. Once a woman got married to man, she lost all her lawful existence. For any woman to have a position in the legal system it was good to remain unmarried. Single women enjoyed more legal freedoms compared to the married women. Single women had the liberty to own property, sign contracts and retain control of her earnings; however the community looked upon as being infertile.
During the colonial times a woman had a very eventful and busy household life. A woman carried out the role of wife, mother, manager and teacher. She had to satisfy her husband, give birth and raise children, teach her children, and manage all the domestic activities in the family. At home a woman was responsible of all trades. Part of the responsibilities of the wife was to take raw materials and turn them to into valuable goods, such as clothes, food and candles. A woman was a family factory. A woman was a family factory. Many of the items in the household were made by women. All types clothing was done by stitching, spinning and weaving. All clothes were washed using hands, without the help of any washing machine. Women made candles by interlacing a wick and down pouring the heated wax into a mold. A woman needed to be experienced enough to teach her children the basics skills of life (Kirner & Rayner, 1998).
Women spent a lot of their time carrying out daily activities, but they were still able to enjoy leisure activities such charity activities, painting, and embroidery. Women had limited legal rights. In most of the colonies, women had no lawful power over their lives. In the society it was agreed that any female was well represented by her father, husbands and brothers. A woman was only allowed to own property if there were no single man in the private life and if she was married relationship; the husband retained the rights over the property. Single women possessed more legal freedoms and rights, but were looked down negatively by society. The widow woman was responsible for taking care of her husband’s property, business and trade. Many of the widows become shopkeepers, tavern owners and others run plantation farms.
Some women involved themselves in running a school in their home. Other women given money to run prisoners in their homes. Women’s rights were legally constrained, but their rights and roles in the family were set out by the husband. Women were basically treated as property, and her husband’s thoughts on his wife’s responsibility in the family determined her rights (Cecil & Mercer 2005). A husband who supposed women were different but equal to men would give his wife more rights freedom than a husband who thought that women were lesser to men. With time, more choices and rights emerged on how a woman would live her personal life.