Sara Payson Willis Parton was a vocal feminist, constantly writing in defense of women’s rights. She believed women were as smart as men, and should be allowed to follow any career they chose. She wrote about birth control, divorce, education for women, sexism in religion and marriage, and women’s poverty. Her writings are very funny, and her witty criticisms and satires of sexist men drew a lot of attention. Her ideas were way ahead of her time, and people often didn’t agree with her. In this essay, I will examine the life of Fanny Fern, and discuss how the society she came from played a major role in influencing her writings.
Notoriously known as Fanny Fern, Sara was born in Portland, Maine, and was originally named Grat a Payson after the mother of the Congregational minister Edward Payson, whose sermons had influenced her father in a immensely. She was the fifth of nine children born to Nathaniel and Hannah Willis. In the early 17 th century, her predecessors had come from England to Massachusetts. Her paternal grandfather edited a Whig journal during the Revolutionary War, and her father published an anti-federalist organ, the Eastern August in Portland. A libel suit forced him back to Boston when Sara was a year old.
There he started a printing business, and published one of America’s first religious newspapers, the British Recorder. As a child, Fern’s witty personality earned her the nickname of “Sal Volatile.” She attended school in Hartford, Connecticut at the seminary of Catherine Beecher. When she returned to Boston, she often contributed to her father’s Youth Companion. She married a wealthy banker named Charles H. Eldredge in May, 1837. Together they had three children, Mary in 1839, Grace Harrington in 1840, and Ellen Willis in 1844.
Queen Victoria ascended to the British throne twenty seven days after her eighteenth birthday in 1837 and brought about an age in English history known as the Victorian Era. Sir Arthur Helps, a friend of Charles Dickens once told Queen Victoria that Charles Dickens would ultimately "hereafter be closely associated with the Victorian era." (The World of Charles Dickens 105) Charles Dickens does not ...
This seemingly wonderful time in her life was ended by tragedy; the death of her mother, daughter Mary, and husband in 1846. Unable to find work, Fern was forced to financially rely upon her father because the law held that once a woman was married, all her property was to be turned over to her husband, and now that her husband was dead she was left with nothing. Her second marriage in 1849 to Samuel P. Farrington ended in divorce three years later. Fern had left Farrington which was almost impossible to do at this point in society. At the times she was living in, it was believed that a woman’s place was in the home.
Societal views held that women were to be the homemakers, while the occupations in the outside world were to be left to the men. “It was an age when women were preferred as angels rather than amazons, homemakers rather than careerists.” (Donald & Randall 19).
Once again on her own, she attempted teaching and sewing. However she made so little that she had to give up her daughter Grace. Fed up, she decided to ignore the “inferior” tag that society pinned on her, and join the male dominated world of journalism.
She decided to write and used the pseudonym “Fanny Fern.” The Mother’s Assistant, the True Flag, and the Olive Branch, small Boston magazines, published some of her work in 1851. Before long, many newspapers reprinted these amusing paragraphs. Her journalistic career now on its way, got the attention of publisher James C. Derby from Auburn, New York. He gathered her writings together and published them in 1853 as Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio. It became an immediate bestseller in both America and England.
Robert Bonner, owner of the New York Ledger, placed her on his payroll in 1855 at the astounding salary of $100 for a regular weekly column. This made her one of America’s first women columnists. Having to live in a society like hers was difficult; such denials of equal opportunity gave rise to advocates of women’s rights. Fern, like other feminists spread the word of injustices to all who would listen through her powerful writings. She also wrote about the problems and status of female authors. In “Hints to Young Wives,” Fern wittingly writes about the roles of women at her time: The minute she sees her husband coming up the street, she makes for the door, as if she hadn’t another minute to live, stands in the entry with her teeth chattering in her head till he gets all his coats and mufflers, and overshoes, and what-do-you-call-’ems off, then chases round (like a cat in a fit) after the boot-jack; warms his slippers and puts ’em on, and dislocates her wrist carving at the table for fear it will tire him.
Women and Men Communicate Differently The process of neo-Liberal dogmas, such as celebration of diversity and elimination of sexism, being showed up peoples throats, brought about a situation, when employment policies correspond less and less to the objective reality of interaction between genders at workplace. Men and women are expected to execute their professional duties with the same ...
She feels that women have been blindly led into a belief that their purpose on earth is to serve men. “Hints to Young Wives” is a typical newspaper article by Fanny Fern, published in the Boston Olive Branch in February of 1852. This piece demonstrates the intimacy in which Fern speaks to her reader. Fern’s style is simple. She uses common diction and short sentences to mimic conversational tone. “Hints to Young Wives” is about a woman desperately trying to warn young wives about their sneaky husbands.
I like this article because she uses humor to get her point across, instead of tearing up and pouting about the horrible situation. In Blackwell’s Island No. 3, Fanny Fern touches on the taboo subject of prostitution. She warns the readers that the article maybe offensive to some but bluntly compares the roles of prostitute and Johns. Men may pursue sexual pleasures because they deserve that right. Women who serve those rights should be locked up and never thought of again.
The idea that mother’s introduce their very own daughters to future husbands, perpetuates the never ending chain of events-men have the right to cheat and pursue sexual pleasures. Fern touches on this same subject in Hints to Young Wives. In her time, mother’s had no greater pleasure than to marry their daughter to a respectable gentleman. These “respectable” males in turn deserve to gratify themselves outside of the marriage arena. Women considered prostitutes the lowest form of life and pretended that they didn’t exist. Prostitutes were on every corner in New York.
Part I. Introduction Statement of the problem Female and male gender roles in today s society reflect on more than just what others think about the man and female role. This paper will also show how and why people think this way. At the time of conception male and female babies are influenced to act a certain way by the actions of the people around them the most. A baby s sex distinction is ...
Many had no other choice but to earn a living in this fashion. Men on the other hand, were not penalized for this behavior. Their sexual needs were part of their very being. Men considered their lives monotonous, even though at the end of the day their shops are closed, and all day in work they conversed with adults. Women, on the hand, are always tending to family-never ‘closing shop’ at the end of the day. Should not a woman be able to pursue the same forms of excitement as a man? Fern in her article also touches upon her religious views.
God created humans equal in that everyone must follow the same Ten Commandments. She believes that the seventh commandment is meant to be followed by both men and women. Society has given men their stamp of approval to disregard God’s commandment. Society has dictated that men not only need these activities because they are physically different, but actually deserve to act out these behaviors because of their ‘lack of luster’ lives. When women work as prostitutes, not only are they breaking the laws of society and should be thrown in jail, but they are also breaking God’s laws and should be cast to hell for all eternity. Fanny exposed the double standard of her times, but sadly enough most women also perpetuated females as not deserving life’s pleasures.
In Mrs. Adolph’s Smith Sporting, Fern comments on the shortcomings of males, in a delightful, comical, and well-written paragraph. She exposes the incapability of men to survive without women. At the same time it is clear that the woman is in charge, and has total control over the whole situation.
Mother finds all missing items, feeds the family, tends to the ill, and fights the battle. Men can do one thing at a time while women perform many tasks. Fanny’s commentary on prison life, Blackwell’s Island, differs from most of her essays in that its focus is on society’s punishment system rather than women’s role in society. This article enlightens the reader to the penal’s systems, and societies failure to serve those convicted of crimes. This seems like one of a few articles that does not paint women in need of liberation. Criminals are imprisoned for crimes and people feel they should be locked up.
In this essay I will look at whether the inequality between men and women is a human universal, or whether there are or have been societies in which women shared power equally with men, or even exercised power over them. In order to do so, I will look at the writings of a number of anthropologists. In "The Subordinance of Women: A Problematic Universal", author Ruth Bleier indicates that a central ...
Fanny sees humanity in the faces of the prisoners. She questions just how people become involved in a life of crime. Is it the will of God or society? When a prison is struggling along, does society lend a helping hand? She speaks of housing (modern day half-way house? ? ) and jobs being available. She believes that society has a duty to save itself. After serving their punishment, prisoners should not be branded as convicts, but blended back into society.
She notes that society comes around passing out Bibles and shouting out God’s word, but offering no responsibility in the plight. It seems as though Fanny is a spokesperson for the mistreated beings in her society. The article recites to the modern day reader that women in the 1800’s even Fanny, had a softer side. Women had the idea that institutions, jobs, and money would give criminals self respect. This self respect would deter them from committing crimes. This idea works for some but not for others.
Fanny again draws from some of her religious beliefs. Society should not condemn, but try to prevent further criminal acts. In all, Fanny Fern was a woman ahead of her time. She saw the injustices of her society, took notes, and wasn’t afraid to share what she felt with the world. She was a brave woman who turned her life tragedies into a powerful force that kept her strong.
She laughed in the faces of those who made it seem that women were inferior to men, and pulled the wool from the eyes of foolish women who believed that their only role in life was to serve men. She put the wheels in motion for women’s rights, and for that reason Fern has helped make the lives of women better today.