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Martha Ballard - a Midwives Tale

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Essay title: Martha Ballard - a Midwives Tale

This Woman's Work

Before I watched "A Midwife's Tale", a movie created from the diary found by Laurel Ulrich chronicling the life of a woman named Martha Ballard, I thought the women in these times were just housewives and nothing else. I pictured them doing the cleaning and the cooking for their husbands and not being very smart because of the lack of education or them being unable to work. My view on the subject changed however when I watched this specific woman's life and her work.

To know that there was a woman such as Martha back in those days is very interesting to me because I especially did not think there were women who were as brave and independent as she was. The lives of women in general, not just in Martha's case, were busy and at sometimes hard during these times. They had to do an array of things from keeping the house under control and raising sometimes several children to working on a farm and spinning. Sometimes, some women would even work to make a second living for the family, as in MarthaВ‘s case. And even though the women were able to work, they still did not hold as much power as men did, which is still evident today. And if the women were recognized as much as they should be I'm sure we wouldn't need a completely different subject for Women's History because they would cover it in the regular history classes, instead of the subject consisting of 99.9% males.

Martha's day was a pretty long one and consisted of many jobs to do, anything from cleaning the house to delivering a baby. The fact that she never lost a mother during any of the childbirths is astonishing in itself since it was the number one cause of death in women. Among those jobs she also spun, raised her children, worked on her farm, and treated illnesses, coming up with her own remedies. For example when Parthenia was sick and she had her drink the last milk from the cow in hopes of her getting better which unfortunately she wasn't able to make her get better and Parthenia died. Martha's own children however all lived into their adulthood which was also a very rare thing to add to her list of unique facts.

Although Martha did have different jobs to do, her real job was being a midwife. She got paid high for a woman at this time and she was a well respected person in the town. This job was the most demanding and it's not like there was birth control at this time so there was a lot of births. At any time she could be called on to deliver someone's child and it was probably very stressful with having no time for herself and having to leave whatever she was doing whenever she was called on. What I thought was weird is, in the movie, Martha asks the mother in labor who the father of the baby is and that's how they did paternity tests which seems so strange but it was the only way at the time, I guess. She probably wasn't happy when the spinster girl that worked at her house, in the movie, said her son's name during that crucial moment. After a hard day like this she got to go home and clean her house and cook food, I can just imagine how fun this was.

The incident in the movie when I found out that the minister's wife was pregnant by one of the men who gang raped her amazed me because I didn't know things like that happened back then. And it was sad because she couldn't really do anything about it because of the fact, like I said before, the cards stacked in the men's favor. Also, she was not able to prove the father of the baby even though she thought it was North, there was still no way to make sure of it. This is another thing that confirms that the women of this time were strong people, especially all the other women who had to go through things like she had to. Martha Ballard also had endure a lot of hard times as she got older. She couldn't do the things she used to be able to do when she was younger and probably more healthier. When her husband was put in jail for not collecting the full amount of taxes and all of her

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