Westward Expansion DBQ: Wild West Women- Victims of the time? or rugged outlaws? deserving of their crime
Women include: Belle Starr, Annie Oakley, Pearl Hart, and Calamity Jane
Women of the American wild west had to be a resourceful lot to cope with the elements that surrounded them: the harsh conditions, lawlessness and living in an age where there were few amenities. Some women took to the gun as readily as any man and others made lives for themselves apart from dignified society. But for women who made the trek west with their families, their lot was in raising children, running a household (that included food processing, candle and soap making, spinning, weaving, knitting, etc.), establishing schools and churches, and occasionally, warding off Indian attacks. Some were deeply involved in human and voting rights (the suffragette movement)
However, that was not true of all women. Growing up, children's imaginations are filled with stories of bandits and sheriffs, and everyone knows the name of some of history's most infamous outlaw cowboys — but what about all the female outlaws you never heard about? Contrary to popular belief, they existed. And some of them were just as infamous as their male counterparts.
If you think about it, it made sense that the American frontier provided an opportunity for women to turn to life of crimes. Free from the conventions of proper city life, women experienced a lot more social and economic freedom. They could run businesses, own land, and engage in politics or crime if they wanted. Often the two were somewhat related.
Many of the women taking advantage of this freedom found their livelihoods through gambling or prostitution, two professions that brought them in close contact with gangs that roamed the frontier. Other women owned homesteads and worked with cattle. But what these women all had in common was a need to survive in an extremely trying environment. Some turned to crime or other "unladylike" ventures — but most are forgotten.
It is your job, to read about several women during Westward Expansion/ the Wild West and decide whether they were women desperate and victims of the time? Or were they rugged outlaws, deserving of their punishments and more?