Throughout history, religion has expected a lot from women. Since colonial times, religion and culture never asked, but expected, women to be well-mannered wives and mothers. Obedience to their husbands, along with the suppression of anger has always been the ‘role’ of the woman. Their job also consisted of leading their families to church as well as convincing their loved ones to live a good, Christian life in the eyes of God. As Elizabeth Fox-Genovese stated in the text Religion and Women in America, they were expected to “live a Christian life in what clearly was not a Christian world.” However, at this time, women viewed all of these duties as a religious “calling.”
The Puritans of the 1600s strongly believed each person held responsibility for their own souls, but since worshipping occurred to a male God, the role of natural leaders of the churches belonged to men. Like most colonized areas of the time, there was no separation of church and state and churches and government overlapped, resulting in men holding sole power. The Puritans saw marriage as the “basic unit of social order and as a sign of religious grace,” as the text states. Married couples held the responsibility of adoring each other; however, men had the right by law to beat their wives, as long as it was not “too severely.” Nevertheless, who decided the extent of the severity? Other men.
The Puritans did not stand for any opposition of religion, especially from women. The idea of having a woman challenge them was unheard of, and all women knew better. However, in the 1630s, Anne Hutchinson, a midwife and religious radical, surfaced as a leader of the female faith. She held sermons in her own home, claiming God spoke directly to her. The ministers of New England viewed this as a challenge to their authority, declaring her claim as illegitimate. Anne, along with her followers, was banished from the colony, resulting in men, once again, having absolute power.