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New Critical Studies on Early Quaker Women, 1650-1800$
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Michele Lise Tarter and Catie Gill

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814221

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814221.001.0001

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Stock Characters with Stiff-Brimmed Bonnets

Stock Characters with Stiff-Brimmed Bonnets

Depictions of Quaker Women by Outsiders, c.1650–1800

(p.91) 5 Stock Characters with Stiff-Brimmed Bonnets
New Critical Studies on Early Quaker Women, 1650-1800

Erin Bell

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines continuity and change in representations of women Friends by non-Quakers in the first 150 years of Quakerism’s existence. Unsurprisingly, given their active role, including the unusual position of female travelling preachers, a large amount of attention, often negative, was paid to Quaker women by male non-Quakers. Analysis of such depictions reveals that stereotyping of female Friends served a number of different ends: it sought to titillate non-Quaker men with depictions of young Quaker women, and to reinforce non-Quaker men’s self-appointed role as moral guardians with religious, moral, and gendered superiority over Quaker women. The chapter considers how such responses were likely driven by anxious hegemonic masculinity, identified by several scholars as central to mainstream male identity, which led Quaker women to initially be viewed as a potent threat and later as stock figures, created to belittle female Friends’ growing moral and political influence.

Keywords:   stock characters, hegemonic masculinity, female preachers, stereotypes, male superiority, anxious masculinity, influence

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