Rural Women

Date:         Sat, 4 Dec 1993 11:14:21 -0600                                    
Reply-To:     H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
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              <H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET>                                            
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              <H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET>                                            
From:         "Jim Oberly, History Dept.,                                       
              U of Wisc-Eau Claire" <JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU>                   
Subject:      Class and Gender                                                  

Moderator's Note--Just a friendly reminder to include your name, affiliation, and E-Mail address when you post a message to the list. Thanks, Jim Oberly, H-Rural Moderator, History Dept., Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI 54701 JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU


[From: IN%"feyen%ssc.wisc.edu@UICVM.UIC.EDU" 3-DEC-1993 16:43:23.64 [To: IN%"h-rural%uicvm.uic.edu@ssc.wisc.edu" [Subj: class and gender

This is a response to the new subscriber who wanted to know something about the confluence of class and gender in "rural." I would suggest one particular example of how gender and class intersect that may be useful for someone who has not previously given this issue much thought. In an American history class that uses gender as a unit of analysis, we discussed the implications of "Republican Motherhood" a concept that was used to define the roles of white middle-class women around the time of the Revolutionary War to the Antebellum era. There are much more sophisicated ways of doing this but here goes anyway.

The construct of what the ideal woman should be and do has also been known later on by the name of "The Cult of True Womanhood" and "The Cult of Domesticity." These are ideological constructs that did not reflect the actual lived experience of most Euro-American women of this era. It particularly did not fit the life of women of the "lower" class for lack of a better word. These ideologies said proper and true women stayed in thir homes and raised wonderful, patriotic children, managed tidy, pleasant homes, and did not get their hands "dirty" in the corrupting business of the "public" world of the economy.

While some women may have had the leisure and resources to live such a life, they were few and far between. Even middle-class women did much labor around the house and interacted in the everyday world of commerce if for no other reason than to provision their households with food and the like.

But what about the poor woman who was forced to hire herself out as a servent, a seamstress, a mill worker or worse a prostitute in order to feed her family? Her visibility in the tainted world of commerce and corruption set her forever outside the ideology; she could not be the "Republican Mother" or the "True Woman." She was the outcast of this social construct of gender.

The intersection of gender and class can be seen in the different ways the ideology of the "good", "true," woman effected the lived experience of women in these two "classes". Poor woman were outcast and became the later target (along with women of color and immigrant women) of the women's benevelent societies in the 19th century. Middle-class women were ideologically trapped in the home (the proper place for woman) and their work to reproduce family and society was obscured or demeaned relative to mens. I am sorry this is so long but I thought it might serve as an example of this confluence of class and gender. It does not focus on rural women but it is an urban analogue to my study of a rural community and the social welfare activities of local turn-of-the-century middle-class women who ministered to immigrant and rural indigent women. The outcome of the social "service" provided was colored by the ideology that the middle-class women brought to their work of benevolence. It dictated in part which women would be served and what kind of services the women deserved.

[Moderator's second note--this post was submitted by Carol Feyen, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison FEYEN@SSC.WISC.EDU



Date:         Mon, 28 Feb 1994 15:26:33 -0600                                   
Reply-To:     H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
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From:         "Jim Oberly, History Dept.,                                       
              U of Wisc-Eau Claire" <JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU>                   
Subject:      Re: Farming and Women                                             

[From: IN%"ejameson%polaris.unm.edu@UICVM.UIC.EDU" 28-FEB-1994 14:15:27.39 [To: IN%"H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET" [Subj: RE: Farming and Women <fwd from H-Amstdy>

This is in response to what makes a woman on a farm a "farmer." Usually there was and is some division of labor on a farm; the question is why men's work defines farming. Women often see themselves as "helping" on farms, when they do considerable outside and inside work--the point is that the "domestic" work is part of the farm infrastructure. Canning, for instance, is part of creating farm labor power, and feeding wage workers on farms. This isn't really my area of expertise, but Sarah Elbert, Corlann Gee Bush, Joan Jensen, and Nancy Grey Osterud, among others, have produced a wealth of material on rural women and women farmers.

Joan Jensen, New Mexico State History Department (just retired, but I'm sure they'll forward mail) can also refer you to the proceedings of a number of conferences on farm women in the past decade. There are also three recent books of interest on women homesteaders in the U.S., H. Elaine Lindgren's LAND IN HER OWN NAME; Deborah FInk AGRARIAN WOMEN; Katherine Harris LONG VISTAS.

Betsy Jameson Univ. of New Mexico



=



Date:         Tue, 1 Mar 1994 11:28:46 -0600                                    
Reply-To:     H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
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              <H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET>                                            
From:         "Jim Oberly, History Dept.,                                       
              U of Wisc-Eau Claire" <JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU>                   
Subject:      Re: Farming and Women                                             

[From: IN%"leon%cca.qc.ca@UICVM.UIC.EDU" "Leon Robichaud" 1-MAR-1994 07:29:42.79 [To: IN%"H-RURAL%UICVM.BITNET@uga.cc.uga.edu" "H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion list" [Subj: RE: Farming and Women

For a description of women's role in dairying changed, see Marjorie Cohen's _Women's Work, Markets, and Economic Development in Nineteenth-Century Ontario_ (University of Toronto Press, 1988). Cohen demonstrates how men took over various operations from their wives as dairying became a very profitable part of the farm. On the present situation in Quebec, the "Union des producteurs agricoles" (Quebec's farmers' union), or the "Cercles desfermieres" (a farm women's association) probably have figures on the present role of women in farming, particularly on the number who either own a farm or own a farm jointly with a spouse or father.

Leon Robichaud leon@cca.qc.ca




Date:         Tue, 1 Mar 1994 11:34:44 -0600                                    
Reply-To:     H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
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              <H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET>                                            
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              <H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET>                                            
From:         "Jim Oberly, History Dept.,                                       
              U of Wisc-Eau Claire" <JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU>                   
Subject:      Re: Farming and Women                                             

[From: IN%"AEFFLAND%ERS@UICVM.UIC.EDU" "Anne Effland" 1-MAR-1994 09:03:46.40 [To: IN%"H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion list <H-RURAL@UICV M>" [Subj: RE: Farming and Women

> [From: IN%"ejameson%polaris.unm.edu@UICVM.UIC.EDU" 28-FEB-1994 14:15:27.39 > [To: IN%"H-RURAL@UICVM.BITNET" > [Subj: RE: Farming and Women <fwd from H-Amstdy> > > > >This is in response to what makes a woman on a farm a "farmer." Usually there was and is some division of labor on a farm; the question is why men's work defines farming. Women often see themselves as "helping" on farms, when they do considerable outside and inside work--the point is that the "domestic" work is part of the farm infrastructure. Canning, for instance, is part of creating farm labor power, and feeding wage workers on farms. This isn't really my area of expertise, but Sarah Elbert, Corlann Gee Bush, Joan Jensen, and Nancy Grey Osterud, among others, have produced a wealth of material on rural women and women farmers.

Joan >Jensen, New Mexico State History Department (just retired, butI'm sure >they'll forward mail) can also refer you to the proceedings of a number of conferences on farm women in the past decade. There are also three recent books of interest on women homesteaders in the U.S., H. Elaine Lindgren's LAND IN HER OWN NAME; Deborah FInk AGRARIAN WOMEN; Katherine Harris LONG VISTAS. > >Betsy Jameson >Univ. of New Mexico

I've meant to respond to this question of women as farmers before and think now I may be able to offer some useful sources for people interested in looking into the question. The conferences Betsy referred to are part of a continuing series, the next of which will take place December 1-4, 1994, in the Washington, DC, area. Anyone who would like information on this conference may contact me at any of the addresses or numbers listed below.

Two previous conferences have resulted in published proceedings. Papers from the Second National Conference on American Rural and Farm Women in Historical Perspective, held at University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1986, were published in Women and Farming: Changing Roles, Changing Structures, ed. Wava G. Haney, Jane B. Knowles (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1988). Papers from the Fourth National Conference, held at University of California, Davis, in 1992, are published as Vol. 67, No. 2 of agricultural history (spring 1993).

There are also a few women here at the Economic Research Service who do research and collect data on women as part of farm households. I recommend interested individuals contact Janet Perry (e-mail:jperry@ers.bitnet). She asked me to alert people that she is very busy with survey returns at the moment, but will respond as quickly as she can to any queries.

This field of research is really blossoming. I could go on for pages with this stuff. Janet and I have worked with women in Canada on this topic and there is a rich literature for Europe and other areas of the world as well. Anyone interested in more, please let me know.


|ANNE B. W. EFFLAND                 |                                           
|ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE          |                                           
|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE     |                                           
|1301 NEW YORK AVENUE, NW 932D      |                                           
|WASHINGTON, DC 20005-4788          |                                           
|202-219-0787 FAX: 202-219-0391     |                                           
|AEFFLAND@ERS.BITNET                |                                           



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Posted: 14 Jul 1994

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