She discusses among many other topics: motherhood, sex, domestic duties, the role of women as educators, feminine inclinations, women's relationships with men and the existence of women as human beings. I believe that human beings have in their nature a primal instinct for survival and that women have relied on men for their livelihood for so long that this human instinct has become blunted. This view is supported in Gilman's work where her writings point to a belief that women are now more feminine than they are human 1
By Gilman's definitions, women had a primarily "feminine" role to play in colonial America. In early southern colonies, females were heavily outnumbered by men but the hardships of life ensured that all inhabitants had to earn their living regardless of gender. Women attended domestic duties like sewing and cooking and men devoted more time to productivity in the fields but regardless of job descriptions, all were kept busy in they strife of making a living. With a rise in European conflict and the spread of these disputes to America, a new population of widows emerged who were previously dependent on their husbands for the livelihood of their families 2 These women gradually integrated themselves into the urban workforce; a move that was encouraged by authorities to decrease the number of widows and orphans dependent on charity.3
The revolutionary age brought change in the attitudes of women. Prior to the American revolution, migrant families to America had brought with them ideals about a "woman's place" and perceptions of "femininity" from the bases of their European origins. However, as the political environment changed and people in general became more outspoken, there evolved a greater tolerance to opinionated women. Women began to hold meetings in their homes involving both men and women where they criticized political and religious figures and discussed everything from economics to medicine. 4
The American Revolution was not simply a military conflict between American colonies and the British Empire; there was a strong cultural and economic resistance in America. Americans became more reluctant to rely on British produced goods and this started an industrial economy for women. Because of this boycott of British products, women became responsible for producing most of their families clothing at home in addition to other consumables like candles and soap 5 6. To continue to support their families and produce food for the army, women also took to the fields and assumed an important role in agriculture 5. If a family owned a business like an inn or a printing press, women often assumed these entrepreneurial roles while their husbands were away 7. This allowed women to demonstrate levels of competency and success at opportunities that were denied to them in the past. Women launched a full scale assault to cement their place in the American workforce. In the past, women who were forced to work were careful not make their activities too obvious. There remained traditions in society that a woman's place was in her home; her private sphere. However, during the revolution, as the demand for women in the workplace grew, women became more prepared to advertise their products and services 8.
Women were not only participating in docile duties. Women sometimes traveled with