Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spinning Out Capital: Women's Work in Preindustrial Europe, 1350-1750

This essay explores women's work from about 1350 to 1750 and shows all of the changes that the European economy went through. Merry Wiesner talked about rural women and urban women and how they sometimes would trade positions. Rural women would travel into town to sell their products or their labor, and urban women would go into the rural areas to buy products to sell or to work on parcels of land that were still owned by their families. It talked about how this made women an important part of the household economy. This would go under the theme of employment and work.
Another thing that was discussed was the difference between where the men and the woman made their objects that they sold. Men were able to carry out their work in workshops where women had to make their items in the domestic area. This really stopped women from being able to do many of the types of work that men were able to do even if they did know how to do things like shoemaking, etc. Merry Wiesner talked about how even widows who would continue to do the work of their husband did not have the same advantages of their competition. The men that were doing these same tasks had the opportunity to get newer equipment that would help them, but women could not have these same things because they had to continue to make their items in the domestic area. The only occupation that was truly looked at as noble for women was becoming a midwife. This changed though when men started to go to school to becom physicians. They made different types of reasoning of why women should be pushed out of the job of midwifery and they should let men take over. Women were never given the opportunity to learn the same things that the males were able to. Merry Wiesner believed that these things happened because men thought that they would give women to much power if they were allowed to do the same work that men were allowed to do.

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