Essay On 18th Century Gender Roles

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During the eighteenth century, gender roles were rigid. There were things that men were expected to do, and things women were expected to do, and these expectations were very different. There were countless works written and drawn about what each gender should (and should not) do and how they should act. Three such works were George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” an image entitled “Keep Within the Compass,” and an anonymously published poem called “The Lady’s Complaint.” In these works, we are shown both sides of the gender coin by showing positive and negative rules for both men and women. In “Rules of Civility,” George Washington gives us a list of 110 rules for what he thinks men and women should, or should not, do in civilized society during the eighteenth…show more content…
In lines 5-8, readers see a how women are restrained when it comes to speaking their minds when the author says, “They plainly can their thoughts disclose/Whilst ours must burn within/We have got tongues, and eyes, in vain/And truth from us is sin” (“A Lady’s Complaint”, 857). Men on the other hand are not held to such a standard, because they can freely say what they wish and be believed. Further on in this unknown woman’s complaint, in lines 9-12, she brings in the biggest example of the hypocrisy of the eighteenth century when she says, “Men to new joys and conquests fly/And yet no hazard run/Poor we are left, if we deny/And if we yield, undone” (“A Lady’s Complaint, 858). Men can go off and sleep with whomever they want without fear of repercussion, but women are not given the same luxury. If women went around sleeping with whoever they wanted to sleep with, they would be left poor and with a ruined reputation. This would leave them with virtually no good options for an income, and a woman’s situation would only get worse if she ended up pregnant because of her
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