Women In 16th Century England

1365 Words6 Pages
Law is essential because it shapes the culture, government, relationships, and virtually every aspect of society. Law is set in place to protect everyone’s rights and freedoms, especially protecting minority groups from the tyranny of the majority. Throughout history different groups have continually been discriminated against. In 1500-1800 England, women were one group that were discriminated against solely based on their gender. In 16th century England, the interest of the group was generally prioritized over individual rights and freedoms. Family was an important group in society, that was headed by the man of a household. Men’s individual rights were prioritized over women’s and reflected as in the best interest for the family. Patriarchy…show more content…
Unmarried women were active in ‘informal’ areas of society because they could inherit legacies, run businesses, hold & invest money, and enter contractual bonds with men they had agreed to marry. Unmarried women were not active in ‘formal’ society though because they were still denied access to formal education, apprentices, and could not hold formal positions of authority. A lot of the activity of unmarried women in society was not legitimate, but was beneficial enough to the greater society that it was accepted to a certain extent. Unmarried women’s informal activity in society was generally not legally standing, but would not be prosecuted if the men they were in business with were mutually benefitting from the…show more content…
Women and men were held to different sexual standards. Men’s sexuality portrayed their control and power over their women, and symbolically their household. Women were held accountable for any sexual promiscuity that occurred, as the reputation of the household was dependent on the woman’s morality. Pregnancy was understood to be a punishment for a woman’s “whoredom”. Even if a woman did not fall pregnant, symbolic physical, ritual, and communal punishments were enacted; broken windows for example, represented a bawdy house and whoredom. Women were also targeted with defamatory names such as “whore” and “bawd”, that had no counterpart term for
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