The Amish Woman

Are Amish women happy? What roles do they play in Amish society?  Do Amish men oppress their women?

Feminists are apt to take a dim view of the Amish woman’s position.

Amish women do not hold leadership positions, but play key roles in Amish society.

Individual experiences vary, as in any society, but some sources point to high levels of life satisfaction among Amish women.

Read more on these and other questions in this Amish Online Encyclopedia entry on the Amish woman.

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    1. Christina

      Wonderful article in the AOE! I think modern women could learn a thing or two from Amish women. I know I have from just reading books and this blog!

    2. Alice Aber

      I agree with Christina. I think we can learn a lot from the Amish women. They adhere to the Apostle Paul’s teachings on the roles of men and women. I think us “outsiders” tend to twist those teachings to our advantage rather than ahere to them in the spirit in which they were written. If each couple were to ahere to the teachings correctly the woman would not feel suberviant because her role is as important as the man’s, just different. And the man would not feel superior for the same reasons. Great article!

      1. MaryBeth Rogers

        In answer to this comment

        In my own relationship which is non-Amish, I am content to sit back and allow the man I love to be the leader. I honor him in that way and he loves me more because of it. I’m 72 and he’s 65. I’ve known him seven years. Before that I was married for 42 years to a man who couldn’t lead. I was forced into the lead role in our family. I literally took care of everything- all of the finances etc. He couldn’t even make his own doctor’s appointments. It’s good to have a man now who will do those things for himself.

        1. Darryl Evans


          I like the role of Amish Women. I wish regular everyday women had the nature of letting the man be the lead respectively. It takes forever to find a woman out here in society with that kind of heart. I think my woman would deserve a little more freedom for her comfort but (No disrespect to you Amish Men) other than that Amish men are lucky to have a woman of such character.

    3. tania smith

      I am certainly not Amish but I do appreciate the role of the Help-meet. It certainly has made an impact on my role as a wife. My husband and I have tried to infuse that respect of separate roles and commisions in life so that we are a stronger unit together. My children are affected because they have me at home. It is deeply satisfying for someone to comment on our children or our relationship, home or efforts. I have taken some home management tips from those wise Amish women on home management, and it is my belief that they know what they are doing! I suppose it is hard to swallow the thought of submission in any form. We are a rights driven society and get our back up far too easy if we think that we are being pressed under someone’s thumb. But like a relationship with God, surrendering our selfishness is the way to absolute and true freedom. Unless you try it, you won’t taste it and likely not understand the phenomenon. So is the role of the Amish woman, one you need to take a walk in their shoes to understand the true fruit waiting to be born of it.

    4. To me, leadership positions hold no appeal. I believe amish women are happy. it is a great joy and blessing to care for your family and home and they work hard!

    5. The answer to this first question posed is probably as varied as the question of “Are American women happy?” It is impossible to make a generalization.

      Yes, Amish women have a vote in church, but at least in the community in which I grew up, a woman was expected to voice her disagreements to her husband, who was then the designated spokesman. It was never clear to me who I was supposed to go to when I disagreed. I had to stay silent about my disagreement and vote “yes” with every other woman in the congregation, even though every fiber in my being sometimes protested.

      As for me, I was not a happy Amish woman. My independent nature was a problem. The “why” questions that boiled up from within were a problem in a culture where one doesn’t ask questions. And above all the domination that the men in the community lorded over me was a problem, whether it was the bishop admonishing me in public for jogging, my father getting violent with me for a perceived slight, or my older brother bullying me into doing exactly what he wanted me to — making a meal for him, washing his buggy, getting his bath water ready, cleaning the floor after his haircut… it didn’t matter how small the issue… it had more to do with whether or not I did it submissively.

      I was not the only unhappy Amish woman. There are those who feel stuck, perhaos by their family circumstances (many children, for instance) making it nearly impossible, or else they don’t have the courage to leave the only culture they knew. I feel for these women.

      I would agree there are also happy Amish women. In fact, I knew some of them. Theirs was a submissive, quiet nature, and I often envied them that. It is also why they are still there and I am not.

      1. Warbucks


        i have read about you before. After reading this latest statement it was a good thing for the Amish Community that you did leave for you would have poisoned the well for all of the other members including the children. The Amish Culture developed over hundreds of years, a life style built on their Anabaptists Religion amd there desire to be alike so everyone would feel wanted amd safe. P

    6. plain lady

      Are Amish women happy? Who’s defining happiness!

    7. I am a woman who was in a leadership role in her church (obviously not Amish) and will be again, God willing. As leaders we are still under submission to our elders, in my case a bishop, and when he and I had a major disagreement, I was put out of my leadership role. It has taken me years to see what it was I did wrong (and he’s not exactly faultless – I’d tell him to his face still) and how I had not submitted when I should have. The relationship of leadership within the church – no matter which church -is a lot like marriage itself. When that relationship breaks down, it tears the family (the church community) apart. Now, I’m as independent as a hog on ice, as Southerners used to say, and this has been a hard lesson for me to learn! I’ve learned a lot from Anabaptist readings.

      Saloma, abuse is not leadership. There is disfunction in every group. I’m sorry to hear that your family problems affected your life in your church. This is always an issue with an close-knit church group. I pray you have found a life in faith elsewhere.

      1. wendell

        Amish Women

        Are there any Amish or ex Amish women who would teach someone the ways of amish life and are men outside the amish aloud to become Amish???

    8. Thanks for the great comments. It’s true that “Are Amish women happy?” is one of those wide open questions, so I can see where you are coming from Saloma. I believe I’ve had occasion to see the situation you describe, as well as the opposite.

      Looks like I’m the only male commenting on this as yet so I’m not going to wade too deep before I land myself in hot water!

    9. Smart move, Erik! And I love your sense of humor.


    10. Thank you Saloma. It is a testament to the good nature of the female readers of this blog that I can get away with sharing my opinions on the topic 😉

    11. Ex-Amish

      I believe that Amish women are happy insofar as they are able to submit. For those with a much more independent nature, I feel deeply for them. And although Amishmen are to speak for their women, can we truly say that a woman’s truest hopes and desires should be first funneled through the mind of a man? 🙂 Heavens NO! (and I am a man–just a very understanding one.) By nature, we think quite differently and therein lies a much bigger issue–one too big to gauge here..Yikes!!

      Be well

    12. Ex-Amish

      And Saloma…….Great post! Thanks for sharing your perspective…

    13. Hi,I am known as Sacredflower and I write a blog called The Writers Cafe and it was created out of the desire to give voice to unheard stories from women. When I first started writing at a very young age it was because I didn’t feel I had a voice worthy of being heard so I kept my stories in a journal. On my journey as a young woman I discovered that I was one of many women with sad as well as not so sad stories that were kept in safe places such as journals where no one else culd view. It was because of these well kept secrets that many women that followed some of these same footsteps to their deep demise. It is in the sharing of stories that brings about wisdom from physical lessons not hidden experiences of shame. I don’t mean to imply that the Amish women or any other group of women have anything to be ashamed of or unhappy, however, the best way to bring about understanding in my opinion is to tell your own story…I suggest to all women to write their own life story because it not only frees your own soul but sometimes the many that read it. I just finished watching “Saving Sarah Cain” and I rest my comment! A Great Movie!!

    14. Pingback: In Their Own Words
    15. sonofagun

      I am an English man (divorced and non-amish) but I find Amish women quite attractive because of their submissive demeaner and Godly character traits. I would be interested in dating an Amish woman who perhaps seeks to leave the community and would be interested in finding a Godly life and
      lifemate/husband outside of the Amish community. Is this possible and if so, how would I go about this?

    16. Sonofagun, just be aware that the ones who leave are the ones who were gutsy enough to do so… they might also have the guts to tell you where to go if you expect them to submit. If you really want a submissive woman, you probably would have to join a community. There is only one problem with that, though — your divorce would stand in the way. Looks like you’re out of luck to me.

      1. Traci Banville

        Oh Thankyou,Saloma !
        One of the few voices of reason on this entire website. Bless you.

        1. Traci–kind of a broad brush you’re using, don’t you think?

          1. Traci Banville

            No. I don’t. I think that Saloma might agree with me that there is a lot of delusion and fantasizing here amongst the people wanting to “join the Amish”. If I were an Amish person reading the comments I would be very worried about some of these people’s motives. As a non- Amish person I find the entire “fad” disturbing.

            1. The term you originally used was “on this entire website”. Here you clarified it to people wanting to join the Amish. So which is it? That’s a difference; the first formulation can be taken as insulting to a much larger group.

              Generally speaking I appreciate your take on this issue as I do think that people expressing the wish to join the Amish usually haven’t thought realistically about it. I can understand the phenomenon for what it is and the attraction though. And often people are just indulging in a flight of fancy, never really taking the idea even half-seriously (that’d probably be most cases I’ve seen if I had to guess).

              I’ve seen this interest in a lot of different forms, both on this site and in my email inbox. I’d say it peaked about a year or so ago for whatever reason (probably to do with a television show). Limited to the joining the Amish issue I’d say there have been a number of voices on the main thread for that topic that have tried to present a more realistic view.

              1. Traci Banville

                I would have used the word thread or post if the Amish wannabes were all on one but they have migrated from the “So You Want to Join the Amish” thread to several others here and seem to definitely be multiplying.
                So to clarify – I was referring to them in particular.

    17. sonofagun

      Hi Saloma: I appreciate your response.

      Out of luck? I don’t think so. I’m not looking for someone I can browbeat but a Godly women that would be a compliment to me as much as I to her. You seem to be assuming any women that choose to leave are all defiant (non-submissive) and poor helpmate material. I bet not all are. Ideally, I would like someone who seeks not only a different, more enlightened, compassionate way of living but also the same in regards to their religious beliefs.

      Regarding my divorce*, there is much written and much controversy on the subject of divorce and remarriage among religious sects.

      *She divorced me, nothing I could do to stop it due to No Fault Divorce laws.

    18. Albert

      A Breath of Fresh Air

      I’m not a member of the Amish community, so unfortunately I’m subjected to the typical spoiled, selfish, classless “modern” women who walk around with chips on their shoulders and act like men should bow down to them and kiss their feet. To me Amish women are a breath of fresh air. They don’t have anything to prove and they strictly adhere to God’s word. Modern contemporary women think they are God! I’m growing so sick and tired of the modern woman’s unending demands for “equality”. I’m convinced when they mention “equality” it’s simply a code word for: Give me more power and more privileges otherwise you’re discriminating against me. Modern woman’s complaints and demands will never end. Instead of being thankful for the things they do have, they’ll always look at the glass as half empty.

      1. Alice Aber


        Wow, Albert, I do hope you know there are exceptions to the type of woman you describe in your post. I really do not think we are all like that but I will concede there are far too many like that.

        You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder as well as a lot of anger in your heart. I will keep you in my prayers.

        Blessings, Alice
        A “modern woman” with “old fashioned values”

      2. Paul A.B.


        I respectfully suggest that there is a difference between equality and the sort of combative demand for more and more rights that you describe.

        Women and men *are* equal as human beings, but their roles, as understood in the Christian context, are different. Where Christian spirituality has emphasized complementarity between the genders, the feminist movement has tended to emphasize interchangeability of gender roles (believing that social conditioning drove gender role differences). At least that’s my understanding.

        So for example, if I were to be in a relationship with complementary gender roles, I would still see my wife as my equal, albeit with a different “calling” than mine, in the context of our family.

    19. Paul A.B.

      It’s all a very complicated thing, and looking in from the outside, I can understand those who have admired Amish women for their apparent composure and submission. The thing that strikes me most about them is their worker-bee nature. This is really apparent when I see groups of Amish people (women in particular) at sales or markets: they are busy as bees, doing much and speaking little. That is so counter-cultural when juxtaposed against modern society, that a perceptive person can’t help but be amazed by it. I’m sure that when it comes to individual women, personalities vary (as they do with all people), and some are able to “fit” the traditional role more smoothly than others.

    20. Sara

      Women and Kapp Color

      This is a kind of odd question but really I’ve wondered about it for a long time.

      Does anyone know?

      In Amish districts where when a woman is married, she exchanges her black kapp for a white one, or a black Sunday-only kapp for a white one…what does an unmarried lady do?

      Along with this, I know in many Amish church services the people line up by age, oldest to youngest, but when a girl marries does she then skip over the unmarried girls to sit with the older married women? Here again what happens to a single lady?

      I’m just wondering. I mean, could a single lady be 60 and still wearing the black kapp of an unmarried girl or might she at some point switch to a white kapp?

      Will an unmarried lady always sit with the girls or will she ever move up with the older married women?

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        A single lady might decide she is ready to give up sitting with the younger single girls. There isn’t really a special age for that choice, just when she feels ready. She will then stop wearing the black cap and wear a white one and take her place with the older women, married, single, or widowed, and sit in order of her age. I know a girl who made that choice at 30 but some might be older or younger. That doesn’t mean she can’t get married, in fact it happens, but probably has more to do with being more comfortable sitting with women closer to her own age.
        In some communities, the black caps for singles are not worn, and there are a few Swiss communities where all females wear a black cap, so there is a variety.