Men and Women
Men and Women
This chapter describes how the relationships that cattlemen and cowboys had with women also led to differing ideas about manhood. The cattlemen often had their choice of respectable women to marry, and thus defined marriage and the ability to provide for a family as essential markers of manhood. As social outcasts, cowboys had few opportunities to meet with “good” women, and had mixed feelings about the prostitutes who would associate with them. Both cowboys and cattlemen shared prevailing Victorian attitudes about respectable women as innocent and in need of protection, though the women the cowboy could associate with were not the sort that society deemed worthy of protection. For cowboys, women could just as easily detract from their masculine image as enhance it. Cowboys thus both feared and pursued affairs with women, but given the complications surrounding these relationships they often preferred the company of men.
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