In her discussion concerning the role of women as supporters and benefactresses
of Buddhism during the fifth and sixth centuries, Dorothy Wong (2000) mentions the importance of Buddhist nuns and the flourishing of their communities in the south.
Her progressivism was ambiguous, though, for her plans to train poor women to participate in the new capitalist economy contributed to undermining religious supports that had long provided a stay against destitution and maintained the class structures that separated women by focusing training on skills that workers would employ to benefit their benefactresses
. If her early enthusiasm for Unitarian reform to educate poor children and servants might, as she claimed, display "horrible democracy--treason against my caste" in extending social privileges that violated traditional class and gender boundaries, Sedgwick's commitment to some aspects of the caste system is also clear (Sedgwick, Life and Letters 195).
The poem is included in the testimonial letter signed "Allida," where it is described as having been received by another of Frado's white benefactresses
. This positioning of the poem twice removed from its author evidences the success she has had in circulating her story.
Willis, "Nuns and Benefactresses
: The Role of Women in the Development of Buddhism," in Women, Religion, and Social Change, eds.
For example, just as widows in notarial documents described themselves as Procuratrici (executors) for their orphaned children, so too did the dowry documents of the zitelle describe their wealthy benefactresses
as Procuratrici of the recently married girls.(65) In this way, these noblewomen identified themselves as motherly figures, not only through affective language but through legal terminology as well.