Cat and I are in agreement this week; my favourite time in history is also the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. Certainly not for the reasons you’d think.
It seems every discussion I have with someone about the Victorian era include several lamentations: I wish we lived like that/wore that/had buildings like that now.
I mean, just look at the beautiful dresses!
And the pretty buildings!
Rose-tinted glasses, all of it. People tend to focus on the general aesthetic of the era instead of acknowledging the limitations and downsides of its culture.
The fact remains that the Victorian era was an exceedingly awful time to be poor and and an especially awful time to be a woman. Whether a woman was born into a wealthy family or not, her prospects were limited. Women were regarded as flighty, overly emotional, and worse: less intellectually capable than men — despite any evidence to the contrary. Simply, her brain was considered inferior.
Which leads me to why it’s also my favourite era: because women began to band together for change.
It seems so terribly easy to look at the rights women have in the Western world and forget just how hard we fought to earn them in the first place. Imagine how difficult it must be to buck against the social norm, to argue for privileges that have been socially accepted as belonging only to men.
How terribly exciting it must have been to see the marches, to watch women become more vocal about equality. To see coalitions form, like the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. To watch as women first began to protest for these rights.
These women were not quiet or content. These were courageous women.