Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Who Was Really Emancipated?

It's amazing the things you discover when you start learning more about history. Today, for instance, I spent some time reading a 1930s magazine featuring a story of a guy called Tom, a simple office employee working for the city government. Being unmarried, he still lived at home with his parents and three grown-up sisters, even though he was over 30.

His parents wanted him to get married and thus urged him to go on vacation to search for a bride. This lucky individual had the whole 1 (!) week of paid vacation, which was rather not bad for the period, as some men had even less (or none). Of course, half Saturday was free from work, too, though working hours were in general longer than now. Tom's parents pondered the fact that with his decent salary he could afford to go away for the whole week!

Tom's sisters, on the other hand...weren't particularly doing anything at all. In fact, one of them went to visit an old school friend, just for the fun of it while Tom had to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Of course, some single women had to work. The whole divide between middle and lower class was whether the daughters had to go out and earn the living. Yet, Tom wasn't anything particularly special, just a clerk, and his parents were born in the country.

If you ever read Anne of Green Gables story, you'll remember how Anne had to go to college to get her teacher's certificate while her friend Diana quit after getting her school diploma. Even though she was only a farmer's daughter, her parents took care to provide for her so that she wouldn't need to bother with earning the income.

Now when I think of it, Tom's life doesn't sound like much fun to me. It's hardly surprising then that men kept voting for progressives in the 1960s, who promised shorter working hours and longer vacations. They also abolished male headship as stated by law and sent married women to the workforce. So now it's often the man of the house staying home with pain in his back or nervous breakdown while the little woman is toiling away.

The most amazing thing is that many women are proud of supporting a never-do-well husband and consider it to be the top of feminist achievement. Me, I just keep wondering as to who was really emancipated???


  1. Oh well indeed.

    Is it just me or do you, too, stumble upon blogs that chirp 'who doesn't want equal rights' feminism?

  2. No, I never read such blogs. Speaking of equal rights, women could already vote in the 1930s...

  3. And they could have careers, too, if they wished so. Those were hardly Dark Ages.

  4. Women in Finland have been able to vote since 1906...

    But somehow I seem to find all the most childish and naive blogs. Then I waste my afternoons thinking if I should comment or not...

  5. You probably shouldn't - there are much better ways to spend your afternoons, too.

  6. Housewife from FinlandMay 12, 2016 at 2:54 AM

    I have this very ill habit of reading one blog I hate. The blogger is a woman in her late 20's or early 30's. Educated to be a finnish teacher. Makes a very big fuss about being a member of Mensa. She is also very feminist, one of these "slut walk" -feminists. Her favourite subject is to complain how people never believe how extremely intelligent she is, just because she posts images of her huge breasts on her blog! (The main purpose in that blog is to post images of herself. I do not know why.)

    A woman behaves and looks like a shallow and brainless creature, and then she whines when she gets treated like one. This is modern day feminism. :)

    About Anna: I recall she actually loved to study and teach, but even her stopped when she got married. They had to wait several years before marriage, because Gilbert had to find good enough position first, so he could provide for wife and kids.

    Have you read "the Blue Castle"? It is also written by L. M. Montgomery at 1926. The heroine Valancy is almost 30 and has never worked. She lives with her mother and some spinster cousin. They are very poor, and jet none of them works. It would have been a great shame for them to work. I just love "The Blue Castle".

    I think in modern world it makes totally sense that women work before marriage -that is how they learn to respect their husbands and their hard work more. And since there isn't enough good men for everybody, it is better to work and learn to be independent in case you will never find a husband.

  7. Housewife, one could say that Anne made a virtue out of necessity and that the lady author was quite feminist:)

    As for single women staying home, our society changed in such a way that there is hardly any choice. Yet in the times past, you didn't always need a husband as your male relatives would provide if they could. That's how you got these Victorian ladies as Isabella Bird running around the world:)

  8. Housewife from FinlandMay 13, 2016 at 3:27 AM

    It so happens, that I am re-reading Christies "The Mystery of the Blue Train" from 1928. I just noticed how Christie describes th heroine, Katherine: "She was from a good family, but her father lost all his money and she had to work from early age." (my poor translation, I read it in finnish.)

    I wonder how feminists managed to thought as, that working brings you some joy and personal fullfillment? That we cannot feel complete if we do not work outside the home? Since people used to realize, that working is not fun nobody in her right mind works if she does not have to. (of course those people who were forced to work got some pride from work well done and propably enjoyed parts of their work. But who wouldn't stop working, if they had a change?)

  9. We really glorify working place as opposed to home. If you read old books, you'll notice that folks mostly socialised at home, too. I think it really started changing after the WWII. We are also supposed to be motivated by "what is good for economy" and "what makes GDP grow", not by any consideration about the well-being of the family

  10. It is a shame that since so many women worked from a very early age on they don't know how to relax when they are not working. After work they are often too tired to have much of a hobby to occupy their minds. Life was basically work then home and get ready for work then sleep and work again. How couples fit in time with their families and home chores in the little time they have is a wonder. For many it seems a chore and Has to be done as posed to a chore that gets done but does not have to be so hurried when at home more. My friends that worked that are now retired find it hard to slow down. They are not used to being home so many hours at all! :) Yes there are many volunteer things or meetings and such they could take part in. They stay restless though. They get to liking not having to go to work but don't relax and enjoy it as much.
    So many children are rushed once up in the morning to eat and dressed and out of the house to the baby sitter or there then bused to school so their parents can get to work on time. Where is the time to just 'be' to discover things on their own, to use their imagination and be quiet? Those too are a part of growing up...or even being an adult! I wonder how these children at such an early age will grow up to be hurried stressed adults.
    I feel fully fulfilled. At home. I had to work a few years just before my children were all out of the house. It made me even more thankful to be home again and the blessing it is. A blessing for the whole family.
    I feel bad for the men today. No matter what they do someone thinks it is wrong. There is no standard for men or women in society. Sadly also no standard for behavior or manners.
    After WW2 in America people often moved into houses further from their relatives and old friends and therefore did not visit as often. New subdivisions of homes with young families. The tv came into being and it further split even those same young families. In the movie Avalon this is shown so sweetly yet sadly. It is a wonderful story of family from the grandfather who landed in America on July 4th so many years ago to how things changed from that day to the end of the movie within the same large close family. It is like watching my own family.
    Although feminism was here way before the 60s it seems to have escalated fast -forward since. How long till people will not remember how basic family life at home used to be? Sarah

  11. Sarah, it's because feminism nowadays is the dominating force supported and promoted by the government instead of just one political trend as it used to be. It appears to have silenced all the opposition.

  12. This is all going from bad to worse isn't it. These ideas are now so ingrained in society people forget at times things were any different. With each generation that passes from this earth less will be remembered and it will be assumed things were always as they are..and getting worse as time goes on I assume. :(( We will not be here after a while, but our grandchildren and their children will if life goes on. It seems people don't really learn from the past mistakes. We acknowledge that this or that country fell because of this or that but then
    proceed to do the same ourselves. Do we expect the outcome to be different? Sarah