“A womans place has always been in the home, but during the pre-industrial era, the economy itself had been centred in the home and it’s surounding farmland. While men had tilled the land (often aided by their wives), the women had been manufacturers, producing fabric, clothing, candles, soap and practicaly all the other family necessities. Woman’s place had indeed been in the home – but not simply because they bore and reared children or ministered to thir husbands needs. They had been productive workers within the home economy and their laubour had been no less respected than their mens. When manufactturing moved out of the home and into the factory, the ideology of wommanhood began to raise the wife and mother as ideals
Angela Davies Women,Race and Class P32

I grew up in a very repressive religious environment that had very definate ideas about womens position in society, namley that women shouldn’t be part of society, women shouldnt be leaders and women who had children shouldnt work, a womans job was to look after her man and her children. There was an underlying belief that we should go back to the traditional values of 1st century palestinian womanhood without actualy having any idea what 1st century palestinian womanhood entailed. Pre industrial “womens work” was far more labour instensive but also far more communal and creative that the faux “traditional values” that the church was harking back to.

Of course pre industrial life wasn’t some feminist utopia but women had marketable skills and they would not have been isolated in the same way mothers often are today, they would have worked with other women, daughters, sisters, cousins, in laws, neigbours, to produce what the family and the comunity needed. Demanding that a womans place is “in the home” in a society where the privacy and primacy of the nuclear family is sacrosanct, in a society where it is cheaper to buy than to make essentials, leaves women with no agency, no marketable skills and stunts their potential and their creativity. Which I’m pretty sure is one of the aims of repressive religious communities, to strip women off all sense of self, but pretending that it is “historical”, traditional” for women to be isolated from each other is clearly just bunk.

Leave a Reply