March is Women’s History Month, and as a writer of historical fiction – stories that feature strong women – I can’t let it pass unmentioned.
You might ask why women should have a month dedicated to their history; after all, everyone’s history is important if we’re to understand our present, but I shall attempt to give my take on it.
The more I have delved into history for my novels, the more I have begun to understand a woman’s role in the affairs of men. She is the glue that holds society together, the mortar between the bricks, and the nails in the planks of life, and let’s face it – who looks at a building and sees the mortar, or a ship and sees the nails, or society and sees the glue?
It’s only relatively recently that women have been allowed to take their place as equal partners in society, and many still have to fight for that equality in law, relationships, and the workplace. The fight begun by people like Mary Macarthur in the early 1900s for a living wage for women, and taken up by the suffragists and suffragettes in the 1920s, is still ongoing. That the governments of the 1900s routinely ignored women’s concerns seems scandalous now, yet until very recently, the 1970s, rape in marriage was legal. Even more recently, VAT was removed from sanitary wear when the products were declassified as ‘luxury items’. “What?” I hear you say “Luxuries?”.
Women were property and could be used as pawns to further an alliance. Women weren’t allowed to own property. Women had no rights over their children or their own bodies. Women were expected to obey their fathers and their husbands. Women couldn’t inherit. Women were expected to work long hours for a fraction of a man’s wage. Women were second-class citizens.
During my own lifetime, I’ve seen attitudes change. I’ve always felt inferior as a woman, was paid half what a man earned for doing the same job, and I can remember in the mid-90s, a man asked my opinion about something, and I was astonished – a man valued my opinion? I think that was when the perceived inequality between the sexes really hit home to me, but it’s only through my writing and research that I realise how far women have come over the last couple of hundred years, and the dogged determination it has taken to get us where we are today.
Women of today owe a huge debt to those who came before us – the women who fought for the rights we take for granted.
If you’d like to read about the place of ordinary women in history, those who suffered from the lack of rights, and those who stood up and fought for our rights, take a look at:
http://mybook.to/FTCGtrilogy Exile to Van Diemen’s Land.
http://mybook.to/ChainmakersTrilogy the white slaves of England, women’s suffrage, and the rise of Hitler
http://mybook.to/KindredandAffinity family feuds, religious bigotry, and forbidden love
All my books can be seen at http://author.to/RebeccaBryn
Thank you for reading about Women’s History Month.