The identification of femininity with morality and a belief in the innate moral superiority of women were fundamental to the cult of female domesticity in the nineteenth-century United States. Ironically, this ideology of female benevolence empowered women in the realm of social activism, enabling them to escape the confines of their traditional domestic spheres and to enter prisons, hospitals, battlefields, and slums. By following this path, some women came to wield considerable authority in the distribution of resources and services in their communities.
The sentimentalized concept of female benevolence bore little resemblance to women's actual work, which was decidedly unsentimental and businesslike, in that it involved chartering societies, raising money, and paying salaries. Moreover, in the face of legal limitations on their right to control money and property, women had to find ingenious legal ways to run and finance organized philanthropy. In contrast to the day-to-day reality of this work, the idealized image of female benevolence lent a sentimental and gracious aura of altruism to the very real authority and privilege that some women commanded--which explains why some women activists clung tenaciously to this ideology. But clinging to this ideology also prevented these women from even attempting to gain true political power because it implied a moral purity that precluded participation in the messy world of partisan politics.
1. According to the passage, the ideology of female benevolence was consistent with women taking part in each of the following spheres of activity EXCEPT
A organized philanthropy
B domestic life
C electoral politics
D fund-raising for worthy causes
E social work
2. Information in the passage suggests that the author would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements concerning the cult of female domesticity?
A The cult of female domesticity developed independently of the concept of female benevolence.
B The cult of female domesticity was incompatible with women's participation in social activism.
C The cult of female domesticity incorporated ideological elements that actually helped some women to escape from their traditional domestic roles.
D The original motivation behind the promotion of the cult of female domesticity was to exclude women from partisan politics.
E The growth of organized philanthropy in the nineteenth-century United States is ultimately attributable to the cult of female domesticity.
3. Which of the following best summarizes the main point of the passage?
A The identification of femininity with morality promoted the notion of women's moral purity while excluding women from positions of authority in their communities.
B The belief in women's innate moral superiority allowed women to exercise political power without participating in partisan politics.
C The cult of female domesticity helped some women to gain power and privilege but kept most women confined to the domestic sphere.
D The ideology of female benevolence empowered women in the realm of social activism but placed limits on their direct political power.
E The idealization of female altruism enabled women to engage in philanthropic activities but prevented them from managing money and property.