Saturday, November 10, 2007

Train Wreck

I've been in the mood for reading historical romances recently. It often happens after I read a really good contemporary and want to just dwell there for a while, yet still read. The historical details make me realize just how far we've come as a society toward acceptance and tolerance (with some glaring exceptions, yes) and equality in the last hundred years.

First, I think birth control - particularly birth control controlled by women - has given women our best opportunities for equality. (Since I'm going all political these days anyway, I'm in the keep abortion safe, legal, and rare camp. Because otherwise my crazy neighbor might have more say about my reproduction than I do, and that just ain't right.) People still have kids, but I think it's a lot easier if you choose to do it when it's best for you rather than have kids inflicted as a punishment for being human and stepping out.

Women in my country can now wear pants, vote, own property, and hold jobs with positions of authority over men. (Reading romances even from 1980 I cringe at the young nurses marrying old doctors and quitting their job to stay home and run the mansion.) Women can even use their own names instead of being introduced as "Mrs. Mike Anderson". That introduction made some women proud - "yes, THAT Mike Anderson!" but to me it seems a socially acceptable way to "disappear" someone. And certainly going back to "Plain Marge Johnson" was seen as a step backward by the neighbors, even if that Mike was a real loser.

Marriage really does affect how people self identify - as part of a couple and not out on their own - and is the one place you can choose who your family is. The others you're just stuck with by chance. I'm of two minds about changing last names with a marriage - I can see where changing it makes sense, but I also resent the idea a little. I've known some people who were able to gracefully combine both names into a new one. I guess I'll have to search harder for a date if I ever want this musing to be relevant to me because until then, my opinion isn't necessary. Good thing I just wasted a paragraph on it!

This blog entry has gotten a little out of control - I started it by thinking about what people used to whisper about but don't have to any more, went into a mild feminist rant, and got a little stuck. Did I say thanks yet to whomever invented "Insteads"? Tampons are all well and good, but if I ever went back in time, I'd want a stash of insteads. And condoms. And some really good moisturizer and hair conditioner. And my glasses. And a microscope to show people germs and convince them sanitation is important. And antibiotics. Ibuprofen wouldn't hurt either. Which brings me to never wanting to go back in time. Plus, horses kind of scare me. At least horse-riding women today aren't forced to ride sidesaddle. In a skirt.

1 comment:

janet w said...

Crushingly busy but HAVE to say people who are curious ~ in a scientific way ~ about being a woman going back in time HAVE TO READ Outlander! Claire spends a good part of every book in a not-drive-the-reader-crazy way trying to figure out how to manufacture antibiotics 200 years ago ... really truly! She's a nurse who becomes a doctor and she's a WONDERFUL scientist!