Amish women; Old Order; Plain women; Patriarchy; COVID-19; Gender; Positionality; Entrepreneurship; Ethnography


This article discusses ethnography as a discipline and the role of my qualitative fieldwork with Conservative and Old Order Mennonite and Amish women in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania over the past 20 years. It includes extended quotes with interview subjects based on my fieldwork with Plain Women in the ethnographic, female-centered tradition. In it, I discuss the importance of feedback and reflexivity with my interview subjects, and strategies for overcoming their natural humility. More importantly, this article discusses underpinnings related to gender and patriarchy as I examine power dynamics at home and in broader Amish society related to abuse and violence, and a critique of “soft patriarchy.” Moreover, I discuss gender-based considerations for Amish women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of positionality regarding my identity, in regard to my interview subjects. This work contributes intellectually to the growing field of Amish gender studies. [Abstract by author.]