Men's Roles in the Victorian Era
Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
The Victorian era, in the 19th century, was a time when the difference between men and women was very distinct. This was especially true in the higher economic classes, where women weren't required to work and use their minds to keep their families afloat like lower class women were.
During Victorian times men across socio-economic lines were strongly expected to provide for their families. Conversely, married women were expected not to work outside the home. The gender lines, as they regarded work, were strongly drawn. Men's work was meant to provide monetarily for the family while a woman's work, if she worked at all, was at home keeping the home.
In many ways Victorian gender roles were a matter of give and take. A good example is the Victorian attitude that women were the angels of their home, with a high value placed on delicacy and even illness. This placed Victorian men in the position of protector. The Victorian era was a chivalrous time, when men took their role as family protector very seriously.
Victorian men had far more rights than their female counterparts. Many of the rights denied women, such as voting and property ownership, were denied because of the Victorian attitude that men were superior in mind and body. Victorian men were believed to be better able to make rational decisions than women of the same time. They were better educated, as a rule, and were strongly considered the heads of their families.
Converse to the idea that Victorian men were superior to women, they also were considered fallen. Victorian men considered themselves sinners who could be saved by a virtuous woman. Because of this they held virginal women, who seemed to have no appetite for anything carnal, in high esteem. This attitude forgave men for behaviour that would have been unacceptable in a woman.