The characteristics of a "true woman" were described in sermons and religious texts, as well as in women's magazines. In the United States, Peterson's Magazine and Godey's Lady's Bookwere the most widely circulated women's magazines and were popular among both women and men. Magazines that promoted the values of the cult of domesticity faired better financially than competing magazines that offered a moreprogressive view in terms of women's roles. With a circulation of 150,000 by 1860, Godey's reflected and supported the ideals of the cult of true womanhood. The magazine's paintings and pictures illustrated the four virtues, often showing women with children or behind husbands. The publication also equated womanhood with motherhood and with being a wife, declaring that the "perfection of womanhood (...) is the wife and mother." The magazine presented motherhood as a woman's natural and most satisfying role, and encouraged women to find their fulfillment and contributions to society strictly within the home. xviiList the characteristics of a “true woman”.
Godey's Lady's Bookcover, June 1867 Godey's Lady's Bookwas a highly influential women's magazine that reinforced the values of the cult of domesticity. Taken a few years after the publication of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” this portrait photograph shows activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminine poise and respectability even as she sought massive change for women’s place in society. An outspoken supporter of women’s rights, Gilman’s works challenged the supposedly “natural” inferiority of women. Her short stories, novels, and poetry have been an inspiration to feminists for over a century. Photograph, 1895. Wikimedia. Women vocalized new discontents through literature. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” attacked the “naturalness” of feminine domesticity and critiqued Victorian psychological remedies administered to women, such as the “rest cure.” Kate Chopin’sThe Great Awakening, set in the American South,likewise criticized the domestic and familial role ascribed to women by society, and gave expression to feelings of malaise, desperation, and desire. Such literature directly challenged the status quo of the Victorian era’s constructions of femininity and feminine virtue, as well as established feminine roles. Who was Charlotte Perkins Gilman?
"The Pasting Table" A 1887 illustration of women working in an assembly line. But while many fretted about traditional American life, others lost themselves in new forms of mass culture. Vaudeville signaled new cultural worlds. A unique variety of popular entertainments, these travelling circuit shows first appeared during the Civil War and peaked between 1880 and 1920. Vaudeville shows featured comedians, musicians, actors, jugglers and other talents that could captivate an audience. Unlike earlier rowdy acts meant for a male audience that included alcohol, vaudeville was considered family friendly, “polite” entertainment, though the acts
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