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October 11, 2011

What a difference a century or so makes...

Revoltedwoman-400x622 Those of you who read the blog reasonably often will know that from time to time I'll write a post that has more to do with women than with automotive advice.  This is one of those posts.  

Fellow blogger and webcomic artist David Malki (creator of the splendid Wondermark comic, if you're not aware of it you should be!) frequently writes about 19th century tidbits he finds which deal with entertaining (and true) topics, often espousing quaint or antiquated notions.  This one, however, really captured my interest.  Once I'd read the whole thing, I just had to share it here. 

It's a book review for an 1894 tome called "The Revolted Woman," by one Charles George Harper.  You can read the book in its entirety on Google books if you really want to, or allow me to save you hundreds of pages of misogyny and give you the "happy ending."  Here we go... 

I think David's introduction is pretty apt, so I'll shamelessly quote him (and the book):

The 1894 book Revolted Woman: Past, Present, and to Come by Charles George Harper is hideously, horrendously sexist. It starts off right away, fearfully mocking the very notion of equality:

She is upon us, the Emancipated Woman. Privileges once the exclusive rights of Man are now accorded her without question, and, clad in Rational Dress, she is preparing to leap the few remaining barriers of convention. Her last advances have been swift and undisguised, and she feels her position at length strong enough to warrant the proclamation that she does not merely claim equal rights with man, but intends to rule him.

David's full review continues to point out this tome's many, MANY fallacies, including a completely nonsensical theory that women's empowerment would actually lead to the end of the human race.  I can't make this stuff up.

...needless to say, we're still here. 

Of course, Charles George Harper wasn't speaking for the majority, even in 1894, and I'm sure his opinions likely changed before he died in 1943.  My personal hero Edith Vanderbilt, after all, was driving cars and was the head of her household in 1914.  I didn't want to write this to attack Mr. Harper - I bring this to you because I want to show you how far we've come.  1894 wasn't very long ago, in the grand scheme of things.  A mere 26 years later in 1920 women won the right to vote in the US, and now here we are, a century later, and I am a woman who makes her living writing about women buying, maintaining, and driving cars.  Imagine!

So, as you go out to your cars today, whether you're driving to work, lunch, home, to pick up the kids, or taking it over to your service provider of choice (a Certified Female Friendly one, preferably!), remember that as little as 100 years ago the dream of the woman as the professional powerhouse she is today seemed as fantastical as Jules Verne's visions of a trip to the moon.  Today, we've accomplished both, and now that we're firmly in the driver's seat of our own destiny, who knows where we'll go next?

You go, girls.  

Have a great day, Ask Patty Nation!

 

  Kaeli Gardner AskPatty.com, Inc.
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