Dorothy Mays is one of the cotemporary scholars who wrote about the position of women in the US before independence. The scholar wrote a book entitled Women in early America: struggle, survival and freedom in a new world. The author aims at exposing some difficulties that women faced before independence, such as unemployment, cultural biases, male patriarchy and sexual violence.
The writer has a main purpose of showing how women managed to survive. She postulates that women could adopt some mechanisms that would help them counter cultural and social biases. With major political, socio-cultural and economic developments, women were able to fight for their rights.
Dorothy is an assistant professor as well as a librarian at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. The writer holds an MA degree in History from the University of Virginia. She further holds an MLS from Indiana State University. The writer has written extensively on the role of women in America.
Her works have changed the position of many women as well as men. However, her works on ‘Women in America’ have elicited heated debate among scholars of history and Gender studies. Her works are mostly influenced by personal experiences, having worked in various administrative positions. She knows the challenges that women face in their everyday lives. Her vast experience on women issues and good educational foundation allows her to analyze positions of women in the modern society successfully (Oates 47).
The writer observes that women have not enjoyed freedom in political and economic history of America. They have always been under men in all fonts. Women were socialized to respect and offer men necessary support. The state on its part had no policies that could save women from all these tribulations.
Labor was allocated according to gender meaning that some jobs were reserved for men. Women could only participate in minor activities, which forced them to be completely reliant on men. Women were not allowed to participate in political processes such as voting and being voted for.
The writer shows that women had the same capacities as those of men but were not allowed to contribute their ideas in developing the country. For instance, women were not permitted to present their candidature for consideration during military recruitment. The writer demonstrates that during American Revolution, women were forced to seek for safety because they could not be allowed to join their husbands in defending their interests (Mays 19). In this regard, there were many female refugees.
In the labor market, women were relegated to minor positions found in the agricultural sector. Finally, the writer shows that women have succeeded in fighting male patriarchy but there is still a long way to go. The major problem in the modern world is ensuring gender equilibrium at the work place. Women are still underpaid while they are expected to perform both at home and at work place. The writer shows that this is a major concern to women.
Dorothy intended to challenge the existing societal structure because it is sustained by subjugating and oppressing a section of its members. She argues that women have never been given a chance to prove their worth in society. In this regard, her main goal is to persuade members of society to accept equality and equal representation.
She claims that women should be allowed to own property and enjoy full rights just as men. The book manages to persuade the reader because facts are ordered logically. She talks much about American Revolution and how women were affected by the conflict between the colonists and Americans.
The author achieves her main objective because of the way she presents her ideas. In this case, the book has a central idea that the rest of the text revolves around. The main idea or thesis is the sufferings of women during colonialism. This demonstrates that women have never enjoyed any rights throughout American history.
The writer develops her thesis by claiming that women adopted some ways that could help them survive. In chapter eight for example, she links the sufferings of women to drug addiction. She claims that American men could engage in alcoholism while abandoning their families.
In chapter 15, she relates modern religion that is, Christianity, to the tribulations of black women. Black Americans allowed women to take over leadership positions in church. The Church of England, which was supported by colonists, did not appreciate the efforts of women in society. The author manages to convince readers to believe that women underwent difficult situations in traditional America.
The author targeted all members of society because she urges women to rise up to the occasion and take up leadership roles. Men are also convinced to believe that women can deliver than some men. She observes that physical qualities should not be used to discriminate some members of society.
The book is very interesting, especially when the writer gives her views on the position of women during American Revolution. In chapter 19, she argues that some women were brave enough to seek for justice and freedom through scrupulous means such as escape, self-purchase or manumission. This is interesting because some men could not attempt to escape. This shows that women have courage and are determined to fight for their rights.
The writer is biased because she presents American society as having only a single conflict that is, gender conflict. In America, there were several conflicts such as conflict between the rich and the poor, conflict between blacks and whites and conflict between the youth and the old. The writer does not capture any of this in her analysis (Okihiro 7).
On the side of sources, the writer manages to give several readings that could help the reader understand the concept of gender disparity in detail. She uses both primary and secondary sources of data to argue her case. She uses interviews to collect information from respondents, which means that primary data is used extensively.
Secondary sources include article journals and books. Dorothy gives detailed information pertaining to the position of women in America in early days. She evaluates all factors that contributed to female subjugation in society.
The author uses pictures to show how the society expected women to behave. In chapter thirteen, she shows how women were treated in case found guilty of adultery. The picture shows a women being beaten by members of the public. Men could not undergo such torments despite the fact that they were leading in adultery. This was aimed at scaring women from participating or engaging in extra-marital relationships. In contrast, men were allowed to engage in extra-marital relationships because they had a right to do anything in society.
Mary Ellen Quinn gave her suggestion about the book by claiming that there ‘were some inconsistencies in sources particularly in the biographical entries’. She concurs with the reasoning of the author by arguing that the book provides important information on the position of women during colonialism in America. She recommends the book to students and members of the public wishing to acquire knowledge about women sufferings in America. Mary’s arguments are strongly supported because the book is helpful to the reader.
The book offers an insight to policy makers as regards to the problems of women in the world generally. The writer identifies religion, culture and male patriarchy as being the major hindrances to women success in society. The views are strongly supported by the reviewer because women have undergone untold sufferings in history such as rape and domestic violence. The book is recommended to readers interested in familiarizing themselves with feminine issues.
Mays, Dorothy. Women in early America: struggle, survival, and freedom in a new world. New York: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
Oates, Stephen. Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale Press, 2002.
Okihiro, Gary. Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture. Washington, DC: University of Washington Press, 1994.