Women's roles and popular misconceptions
Awright - I gotta admit 2 things 1) it's late and I should be sleeping, so I may be starting to get a bit punchy. 2) Reading the "yes, but"s in the vote got me started on a rant I've been working on for a while w/o time to devote to a lot of research. 3)..... I must admit 3 things.... (any Monty P fans here? No? nvrmnd. kthxbi.) 3) I have really really really really got to get to bed, so I'm going to type this fast, disappear for a couple days, and then hopefully get to finish what I'm saying after lobbing a bomb.
were not so degraded, derided, and abused as we've all been told "we" were in the past. ESPECIALLY as this statement applies to Western societies. You know, the great evil ones it's been so popular to hate for the last 40 years.
Now, I'm not going into legal rights, dowries, property ownership, blah blah blah. I'm going to start off with basic attitudes/expectations of/about women in general. And no, those attitudes can't actually be fully seen just by looking at the laws that were on the books 200 years ago.
Ok, I said I wasn't going to talk about legal rights, but let's keep this one very narrow, it just happens to be my first example. Voting. Ok, so women didn't get to vote in the 1700s & 1800s. Guess what? NOT because women weren't considered "smart" enough to vote or whatever. BUT because it was assumed that they and their husband discussed these things, and the husband placed the vote and spoke for both of them. It was assumed that the wife actually had (GASP) influence with her husband when they (GASP) discussed issues, business, and problems!!!
Marriage: A contract where a woman moved out of the care of her father and into the care of her husband. Now, don't get started on exceptions to rules - we all are big enough to realize they exist. Funny thing is, men were expected to CARE and PROVIDE for their wives. Marriage was teamwork - isn't that a word we try to drill into our kids? - the woman had to stay home and keep the home running because the man is out doing the physical labor to provide for the family.
And when I say running a house - do you realize the amount of WORK it took to run a house? A woman wasn't a weak, simpering thing that just couldn't deal with all those hard things like money and numbers! It took all day long just to provide meals for the family! Then there's clothing the family, and yes, EDUCATING the family. In the colonial period, education was held in high esteem, and it was the mother that provided it! Reading was necessary, math was necessary, and MOM taught it. SHE had to be educated herself. In the poor classes, even with caring for, clothing, feeding, and educating the kids, yes, mom did the physical labor of providing for the family, too! She would be out in the fields with the men. She would be doing piecemeal sewing in the evenings, and so would the daughters. A family was a team, and every single member was very very very important.
Women were not derided as foolish, as unteachable, as weak. They were held in a very special regard and admired for their ability to do the jobs they had. They were loved, and yes, they influenced their husbands. Read the letters that John and Abigail Adams wrote back and forth to each other sometime. She had a lot of influence with him. He listened to her opinions, and he loved her dearly.
It's only been in the short time that society has become so wealthy, and so automated that more people could become more prosperous and leisure time actually started coming in abundance. It's only in societies where a family team wasn't required for survival that women became something closer to a pet than a co-worker. Someone who didn't "need" to be educated, but only "needed" to be pretty and act properly in society events.
Enough of a rant? Prof - feel free to defend or shoot me down, or send me off on a quest of research (not that I'll have time to do it until my kids are in college themselves....). I'll see ya'll when I can - it's already insane busy here and about to get worse.