Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Early Morning Seminary: Women's Health

Joseph F. Smith wrote to his wife Sarah chastising her working too hard.  He told her that it gave him “no pleasure to hear you say you have worked early and late to get your days work out of the way,” for he “would rather know you had taken more time over it.”[6]  
Joseph Fielding Smith to Sarah Ellen Richards Smith, May 14, 1874, Sarah Ellen Richards Smith Collection, Box 1, Folder 2, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, UT.

His concerns that too much exertion would strain her system, leaving her health and that of her yet-to-be-weaned children compromised, reflected general concerns during the nineteenth century that exercise might over tire young women and their mothers and might be bad for women in general.  Many nineteenth-century doctors advocated that women not exercise or study too vigorously because their bodies were fragile and needed the energy to function.  Even the columns published by female doctors in the Woman’s Exponent and The Young Woman’s Journal reflected common ideas about women.  The Exponent’s complaints about puffs and panniers, for example, were part of a general movement towards dress reform.[7]  Women were no longer to be primped and pampered till they could nothing but “toddle” about like a small children.[8]  Instead, they were to dress sensibly to provide maximum movement.  The lives of nineteenth century Mormon women reflected those of other American women.  Although they were sometimes involved in polygamous marriages and were seen as helpless creatures that needed to be saved from their husbands, they turned old rags into menstrual pads, weaned their children, and cared for their bodies in ways that were no different from women living in New York or Boston.

hopefully soon MoTab will sing this soon ... ;)

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