The Not-So-Golden Life of the Gilded Age Wife

Velya Jancz-Urban

Although Gilded Age women in the upper and lower classes had many differences, they had one similarity – women were viewed as second best to men, and were expected to be content with this role in society.

Men, for the most part, were clueless, and believed a woman’s body controlled her mind. Men spent an absurd amount of time worrying about the “obstruction of a woman’s menstrual flow” because the blood would then be forced to her brain and lead to a psychological breakdown. She would become a “flooding woman,” possibly with a “wandering womb.”  If there wasn’t a baby in your uterus or “the male member” in your vagina, your womb was prone to just wander around your body. For real, this is what they actually believed!

Obviously, doctors were woefully uninformed: “This curved tube [the vagina] possesses some curious powers, which are in action only during connection with the male.”

Welcome to America’s Gilded Age!