Most women in the colonial period did not have freedom to make decisions or live for themselves. During this time period, it was more common for white women to remain at home to care for the children, take care of the home (cleaning, cooking and etc…) and take care of their husbands, if they were married. The only women who did have a little freedom to handle affairs outside of the private sector were women without husbands (widowed or never married). These women were classified feme sole, which allowed them more freedom where law is concerned. Married women were considered feme covert, which means they gave up their legal identities to their husbands. These women could not make legal decisions concerning anything including their children and their own bodies (DuBois & Dumenil, 2008). Women who came to the colonies as indentured servants lived terrible, hard lives. Indentured servants came to the New World to work as servants for a certain amount of years until they were granted passage into the colonies. These women sometimes had no homes to live in, no food and no clothing. They worked hard jobs and were often beaten and had no legal protection because of their chosen status. The women were treated like cattle when they became pregnant, especially if they were impregnated by their masters. For getting pregnant the woman would suffer a public whipping and have to pay a fine. If her master was the baby’s father, she would still have to complete her service but would be transferred to another master and more time would have to be served in their indentured status (DuBois & Dumenil, 2008). They could not be released from their status of indentured servant if they were pregnant by their masters because lawmakers said that this would cause all of the indentured women to blame their children on the masters in order to receive passage into the colonies. African American women were slaves during this time period and had no freedom at all. They were sold, traded, beaten, raped and separated from their families often times. They became the permanent legal property of their owners after being sold by African slave traders from their homeland. With the introduction of slave labor, white women were able to work in their homes in a domestic capacity. African women worked outside in the fields and later on in the homes of their owners. There was a law in place that banned them from marriage. They also did not want to marry for the fear of being separated from their husbands. African women often had to raise their children alone. Women of every culture had their place in society. Different religions were in place but overall they taught the same thing when it came to women. The woman’s place is behind her husband and not beside them. Women had few rights in religion, which was practiced by the majority of the colonists. Women were not allowed to challenge religious beliefs or they were considered disorderly and punished.
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