If you are a women, girl or identify as a woman and you think feminism is unnecessary or annoying this article is for you!
Let me quickly explain what feminism is about. Feminists are fighting for equal pay, the right to vote, for women to receive education, own land and have equal rights within marriage. They also protect women and girls from sexual harassment and sexual assault. Allow me now, to take a moment and debunk the most common misconception about feminism: FEMINISM DOESN’T EQUAL FEMALE SUPREMACY. We (yes I am a feminist, thank you very much) just want for women to have equal opportunities men have. No matter what men seem to think, gender equality doesn’t exist.
Now, back to you ladies. Allow me to take you on a tour through history to see how much basic freedoms you have today you owe to feminists. Also for the duration of this experiment I’m gonna be using a fictional white woman, because women of color are still heavily discriminated today and while some things improved it’s not perfect by far. So, let’s look how you would live your life in the past, shall we?
Nothing complicated about that, is it? Not exactly.
In all time periods If you were born to rich parents you had a better life and more opportunities even as a woman than If you were born to poor parents. That being sad up until around the start of the 20th century girls were expected to obey their father.
In ancient Rome unwanted children (mostly girls) were left on the street and then sold as slaves. As a female slave you would be forced to work as a prostitute or work in a rich house. Masters would frequently rape their slaves. Slaves couldn’t marry and any baby born to a slave automatically became a slave.
You were born and spent the first few years of your life learning how tot talk and walk, now it is time to go to school. Well not really.
In ancient Rome boys and girls were taught together, mostly languages and etiquette until their come of age (12 for girls and 14 for boys). After that girls were being taught by their mother about cleaning and managing a household.
In the middle ages pretty much the only place a girl could get an education was a convent. So, you could become a nun or never know how to read.
In 16th – 17th century you could study languages If you were from a rich family.
In 18th – 19th century there was a rise in all-girl boarding schools as well as the first school for nurses. Finally the 20th century opened universities to women. Just a friendly reminder that Vivian Malone Jones the first black woman to attend a university in America did so in 1963.
So far you’ve learnt and experienced pretty much nothing so, it is time to get married!
In ancient Rome girls were under their father’s control for their whole lives. When they got married the control now belonged to the husband as well as the father. They were expected to bear children to continue the line. You could divorce quite easily in Rome (at most times), so at least there’s that.
In the Middle ages royal and other power families used marriage to gain more power or property. The wives of course belong to their husband and had to make babies. To get a divorce was extremely hard for a woman. If a man wanted to divorce he had to prove his wife’s infidelity. If woman wanted to get a divorce she had to prove her husband’s adultery as well as state another major reason. Just FIY rape and brutality did not count as a major reason. Yeah…..
It is of course mandatory for a girl to be a virgin when getting married. In ancient Rome the legal age to marry was for a girl was 12. While the husband could be up to 40 years old. In middle ages girls were expected to get married around 18 – 25 years of age. This expectation was kept up until pretty recently.
And of course you needed you father’s approval to get married.
Marital rape hasn’t been paid attention until the late 20th century when most countries made it illegal. Some countries still don’t clasify it as a crime even today.
Now that you are married and maybe you are even lucky enough that your husband isn’t 20 years older creep it is time to get to work.
If you were born into, or married into a rich family you don’t work. You make babies and take care of the babies. If you reader are a young girl you probably think this is a little far-fetched. Just go ask your grandmother, she’ll tell you.
If you were born into a poor family and your husband is poor too, you would had to work. In the middle ages you could paint textiles, keep livestock or work as a household servant. If you did work somewhere other than your home you were expected to have a male supervision at all times. You also had to cook and clean, look after the children as well as make cheese! Yay!
In Victorian Britain working class women worked in factories, as servants or in workshops.While being paid less than the men, naturally Just watch Suffragette to know how hard it really was.
Nowadays you may find yourself in a middle of a political debate and you are free to express your thoughts on the whole process as well as vote. You couldn’t do that in the past. Not by a long shot. Men didn’t want women in politics and hell they still don’t. THat all changed with the suffragette movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. Through protests and marches they won the right to vote. Finally in 1918 Women were allowed to vote in Britain. As long as they were over 30, were white and owned land. Still. Just watch Suffragette.
What a life it has been. You learned to read and gave birth to multiple children and If you haven’t died from childbirth you cleaned and cooked and kept your mouth shut untill your ultimate death.
That brings me back to you dear reader. If you a woman, still don’t believe in feminism just remember that every right, every privilege you have has been made for you by centuries of brave women who paved the way for you. The fact that you can go to school, to work. There have been women who said ‘fuck it’ and went for it, even though they were constantly being brought down by men, who didn’t want them to succeed. Even the women who did the small things, like using contraceptive methods behind their husband’s back, because they didn’t want to have another kid. It’s the women who read books and talked about them in public. It is the women who didn’t get married. The women who wrote books and painted. It’s the girls who put on pants and vests and lipsticks. Women of the past. The extraordinary brave women who stood up to the system as well as the everyday women who rebelled against society in small ways. Those are the real heroes, without them we wouldn’t have anything. Remember them the next time you think feminism is unnecessary.