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Separated by Their SexWomen in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World$
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Mary Beth Norton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449499

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449499.001.0001

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English Women in the Public Realm, 1642–1653

English Women in the Public Realm, 1642–1653

(p.41) Chapter 2 English Women in the Public Realm, 1642–1653
Separated by Their Sex

Mary Beth Norton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines women's political participation by focusing on the groups of English women who petitioned Parliament during the Civil War of the 1640s. It begins by discussing the origins of the events of late 1641 and early 1642 that elicited petitions from English men and women. It then considers the petitions in more detail and how men highlighted sexual themes in their satires of women's supposed political statements, with particular emphasis on Henry Neville's pamphlet entitled The Parliament of Ladies, Or Divers remarkable passages of Ladies in Spring-Garden, in Parliament Assembled. It also looks at the different reactions encountered by female petitioners regarding their efforts at political organizing. It suggests that the petitioners' claims to political participation, and in particular in public affairs, violated customary assumptions about the suitable roles of lower-ranking people even in the absence of gendered public/private distinction.

Keywords:   political organizing, women, Parliament, Civil War, petitions, satires, Henry Neville, The Parliament of Ladies, female petitioners, political participation

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