If you went by my history books in school, there was a mere handful of interesting black people in history. I can count the women we learned about on the fingers of one hand – and that’s even if I’ve had a mishap with a rock hammer and had to bandage a couple. Lessee… there was of course Harriet Tubman*, and definitely Rosa Parks, and Sojourner Truth got mentioned, and… yep, we’re done.
Some people never change. Take the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM). It’s full of men who panic as they realize they’re not actually the Kings of Creation. Women pry a tiny bit of privilege from their sweaty, grasping hands, and they shriek like toddlers being forced to share the crayons. Unlike toddlers, they never learn to share. They just howl persecution and lie a lot in a pathetic effort to get all the power back.
In our first installment, we saw how Mr. William Austin, Victorian MRA Esq., was being terribly oppressed by all those women with their miniscule hard-won rights. But he didn’t give us actual examples. He spoke in sweeping generalities that were, on the whole, pretty meaningless, especially when you contrast his problems with the actual conditions women in the 19th century faced.
Reading this book on Victorian England’s marriage laws is slow going, because I keep running into fascinating women. Mary Lyndon Shanley quotes a snippet of their work, and then I end up haring off after the source and promptly getting immersed in that instead. I made it to Chapter Two, and I did intend to get all the way to Three, but then I ran into Frances Power Cobbe. And I had to read her article “Criminals, idiots, women and minors” in its entirety. It is so full of good things that I will probably quote from it even more. The woman was a caution. She may have been an anti-vivisectionist, but she completely eviscerates the laws against married women owning their own property. She impales her opponents’ arguments on their own logic before she finishes them off with several master strokes. It’s just amazeballs.
The older I get, the more I tend to agree with the author of Ecclesiastes: nope, nothing new under the sun. Even the howling manbabies of the Men’s Rights Movement are just retreads of the same old tire. As long are there are women demanding equality, there will be men whining, “But what about teh menz??? Help, help, men are being oppressed!” A few words are changed, a few flourishes added, a sad trombone appended to the end, but it’s still the same ol’ song.
Twenty-five years since that wall came down. I was a teenager, watching on teevee as citizens pulled it apart, climbed up on it and celebrated, uniting Germany. I remember being astonished that it was happening in my lifetime, and feeling giddy as I watched people reach out and grasp freedom with both hands. It was awesome.
You’ll understand the reason for the title in a moment, although if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’re already sniggering.
Right, so, here we are. Due to my mad photo organizing skillz and an inordinate amount of British detective shows, I’ve now got a folder full o’ botany. I figure I might as well get some use out of the stuff, seeing as how so much of it covers my beloved geology round here. Sigh. Continue reading “Bodacious Botany: Not Mace, I Said A Mace”→
Since getting the Kindle Fire, I’ve been teaching myself the history I never learned. School wasn’t big on freethinkers (although they were big on paens of praise for the Founding Fathers – the real secularist ones, not the weird rabid Christian ones that only exist in right wingers’ heads). My education glossed the suffragettes. It somehow left me thinking that women kicked up a brief fuss and got voting rights justlikethat, and that Susan B. Anthony had something to do with the American Revolution. Well, she was a revolutionary fighting a war of sorts, but I had her badly misplaced. Elizabeth Cady Stanton might have come up at some point – her name seemed familiar when I rediscovered her as a Freethinker – but if so, she wasn’t exactly expounded upon.
The impression I took away was that a woman’s right to vote was a natural evolution in American history, practically inevitable, and that bloomers were a big deal. I got the sense these women were rather freaks in their time. They were, but I don’t think the public school system meant me to think they were quite weird and somewhat undesirable.
I’ve been reading the works of 18th and 19th century heretics. I feel cheated. My education elided freethinking. If mention of a freethinker was necessary, textbooks and teachers focused on something else they’d done, not the actual freethinking bit. This allowed Christians to slumber happily in the delusion that in days gone by, not a word was said against their religion except by icky people who got their asses kicked, or did nothing important at all, or didn’t matter in the least. And it left me with the impression that atheists had sprung up brand-new this (well, last, now) century. I thought everybody who ever meant anything had been religious of some sort, and of course our Founding Fathers were faithful.
And this, mind you, was in a school system that actually taught evolution, at least a little bit, and did a reasonable job inculcating secular values.