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Reformation, patriarchy, women


The Reformation opened an ambiguous era for women. There were risks of losses and opportunities for gain for women who made the transition to Protestant faith. Protestant women gave up some traditional religious supports. The Virgin Mary and the female saints, who provided Catholic women with role models and sisterly patronage, were thrust aside. Priestly intercession ended, the Protestant women, like men, stood alone with their consciences in the presence of God. Women were denied the option of careers as nuns in self-governing female communities, and virginity ceased to be a respected female vocation. All women were expected to marry, and both church and state ordered them too submit to the "spiritual control of their spouses."