Female Power in My Life


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A ripped Captain Marvel can rescue us from intergalactic enemies, but down here on planet Earth a new paradigm of female leadership is emerging. A year ago, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand was famous for being a world leader who gave birth while in office. Then came the slaughter in the Christchurch mosques and overnight the gravitas in her angular face beneath a hijab became an iconic image of global humanity.

As women across New Zealand emulated her gesture of solidarity by donning head scarves, the Arab world took note. A portrait of Ms. Countries from Georgia to Ethiopia have recently elected their first female presidents. Women now lead industries where once the thin air was inhaled only by men. With the ascension of Kathy Warden to C. Take a deep breath. Helped by the Bank Holiday Act of , which created a number of fixed holidays, a system of routine annual vacations came into play, starting with white-collar workers and moving into the working-class.

Middle-class Victorians used the train services to visit the seaside, Large numbers travelling to quiet fishing villages such as Worthing , Morecambe and Scarborough began turning them into major tourist centres, and entrepreneurs led by Thomas Cook saw tourism and overseas travel as viable business models.

By the late Victorian era, the leisure industry had emerged in all cities with many women in attendance. It provided scheduled entertainment of suitable length at convenient locales at inexpensive prices. These included sporting events, music halls, and popular theater.


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Women were now allowed in some sports, such as archery, tennis, badminton and gymnastics. In the early part of the nineteenth century, it was believed that physical activity was dangerous and inappropriate for women. Girls were taught to reserve their delicate health for the express purpose of birthing healthy children. Furthermore, the physiological difference between the sexes helped to reinforce the societal inequality.

An anonymous female writer was able to contend that women were not intended to fill male roles, because "women are, as a rule, physically smaller and weaker than men; their brain is much lighter; and they are in every way unfitted for the same amount of bodily or mental labour that men are able to undertake. Girl's magazines, such as The Girl's Own Paper and The Girl's Empire frequently featured articles encouraging girls to take up daily exercises or learn how to play a sport.


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Popular sports for girls included hockey, golf, cycling, tennis, fencing, and swimming. Of course, many of these sports were limited to the middle and upper classes who could afford the necessary materials and free time needed to play. Nonetheless, the inclusion of girls in physical culture created a new space for girls to be visible outside of the home and to partake in activities previously only open to boys.

Sports became central to the lives of many middle-class girls, to the point where social commentators worried it would overshadow other cultural concerns. For example, a Girl's Own Paper article on "Athletics for Girls" bewailed, "To hear some modern schoolgirls, and even modern mothers, talk, one would suppose that hockey was the chief end of all education! The tone of the school—the intellectual training—these come in the second place.

Tennis, cricket, but above all, hockey! Nevertheless, older cultural conventions connecting girls to maternity and domesticity continued to influence girls' development. Thus, while girls had more freedom than ever before, much of the physical culture for girls was simultaneously justified in terms of motherhood: athletic, healthy girls would have healthier children, better able to improve the British race.

For instance, an early article advising girls to exercise stresses the future role of girls as mothers to vindicate her argument: "If, then, the importance of duly training the body in conjunction with the mind is thus recognised in the cause of our boys, surely the future wives and mothers of England—for such is our girls' destiny—may lay claim to a no less share of attention in this respect.

Croquet by James Tissot. Croquet was a popular lawn game in Britain beginning in the s. Pot Pourri by Herbert James Draper A traditional pastime was making pot pourri by dipping dried flowers in perfumed water. Archery, or toxophily, became a popular leisure activity for upper class women in Britain. Seaside picnics near resort villages in England became accessible to the middle classes later in the Victorian era.

Women equestrians rode "side saddle", succeeding at challenging manoeuvres despite this sport handicap. A Rally by Sir John Lavery. Badminton and tennis were popular occasions for parties, with women playing "mixed doubles" alongside male players. Victorian women's clothing followed trends that emphasised elaborate dresses, skirts with wide volume created by the use of layered material such as crinolines , hoop skirt frames, and heavy fabrics.

Because of the impracticality and health impact of the era's fashions, a reform movement began among women. The ideal silhouette of the time demanded a narrow waist, which was accomplished by constricting the abdomen with a laced corset. While the silhouette was striking, and the dresses themselves were often exquisitely detailed creations, the fashions were cumbersome. At best, they restricted women's movements and at worst, they had a harmful effect on women's health.

Physicians turned their attention to the use of corsets and determined that they caused several medical problems: compression of the thorax, restricted breathing, organ displacement, poor circulation, and prolapsed uterus. In , Dr. Algernon Temple of Toronto even voiced concern that the fashions were having a negative impact on the health of young women from the working classes.

He pointed out that a young working class woman was likely to spend a large part of her earnings on fine hats and shawls, while "her feet are improperly protected, and she wears no flannel petticoat or woollen stockings". At a National Health Society exhibition held in , Viscountess Haliburton presented her invention of a "divided skirt", which was a long skirt that cleared the ground, with separate halves at the bottom made with material attached to the bottom of the skirt.

She hoped that her invention would become popular by supporting women's freedom of physical movement, but the British public was not impressed by the invention, perhaps because of the negative "unwomanly" association of the style with the American Bloomers movement. The movement to reform women's dress would persist and have longterm success, however; by the s, Coco Chanel was enormously successful at selling a progressive, far less restrictive silhouette that abandoned the corset and raised hemlines. The new silhouette symbolised modernism for trendy young women and became the 20th century standard.

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Other Paris designers continued reintroducing pants for women and the trend was gradually adopted over the next century. Fashion trends, in one sense, travelled "full circle" over the course of the Victorian era. The popular women's styles during the Georgian era , and at the very beginning of Victoria's reign, emphasised a simple style influenced by flowing gowns worn by women in Ancient Greece and Rome. The Empire waist silhouette was replaced by a trend towards ornate styles and an artificial silhouette, with the restrictiveness of women's clothing reaching its low point during the mid-century passion for narrow corseted waists and hoop skirts.

The iconic wide-brimmed women's hats of the later Victorian era also followed the trend towards ostentatious display. Hats began the Victorian era as simple bonnets. By the s, milliners were tested by the competition among women to top their outfits with the most creative and extravagant hats, designed with expensive materials such as silk flowers and exotic plumes such as ostrich and peacock. As the Victorian era drew to a close, however, fashions were showing indications of a popular backlash against excessive styles.

Model, actress and socialite Lillie Langtry took London by storm in the s, attracting notice for wearing simple black dresses to social events. Combined with her natural beauty, the style appeared dramatic. Fashions followed her example as well as Queen Victoria's wearing of mourning black later in her reign. According to Harold Koda , the former Curator-in-chief of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, [51] "The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes," said Koda, "The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances.

As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order. Princess Victoria and Dash by George Hayter Victoria before she became Queen, in an Empire silhouette gown. Bustles were fashionable in the s and s. Lillie Langtry by George Frederic Watts Fashionable women in Queensland , Australia around Queen Victoria reigned as the monarch of Britain's colonies and as Empress of India. The influence of British imperialism and British culture was powerful throughout the Victorian era.

Women's roles in the colonial countries were determined by the expectations associated with loyalty to the Crown and the cultural standards that it symbolised. The upper classes of Canada were almost without exception of British origin during the Victorian era. At the beginning of the Victorian era, British North America included several separate colonies that joined together as a Confederation in to create Canada. Military and government officials and their families came to British North America from England or Scotland, and less often were of Protestant Irish origin.

Most business interests were controlled by Canadians who were of British stock. English-speaking minorities who immigrated to Canada struggled for economic and government influence, including large numbers of Roman Catholic Irish and later Ukrainians , Poles , and other European immigrants.

Visible minority groups, such as indigenous First Nations and Chinese labourers, were marginalised and suffered profound discrimination.

Women in the Victorian era - Wikipedia

Women's status was thus heavily dependent upon their ethnic identity as well as their place within the dominant British class structure. English-speaking Canadian writers became popular, especially Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna Moodie , middle-class English settlers who published memoirs of their demanding lives as pioneers. Their memoirs recount the harshness of life as women settlers, but were nonetheless popular.

Upper-class Canadian women emulated British culture and imported as much of it as possible across the Atlantic. Books, magazines, popular music, and theatre productions were all imported to meet women's consumer demand. Upper-class women supported philanthropic causes similar to the educational and nursing charities championed by upper-class women in England.

The Victorian Order of Nurses , still in existence, was founded in as a gift to Queen Victoria to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire , founded in , supports educational bursaries and book awards to promote Canadian patriotism , but also to support knowledge of the British Empire. Both organisations had Queen Victoria as their official patron. Women began making headway in their struggle to gain access to higher education: in , the first woman university graduate in Canada was Grace Annie Lockhart Mount Allison University.

In , Emily Stowe became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada. Women's legal rights made slow progress throughout the 19th century. In , Upper Canada passed a law allowing married women to own property. In , Alberta passed a law allowing unmarried women who owned property gained the right to vote and hold office in school matters. Women's suffrage would not be achieved until the World War I period. Suffrage activism began during the later decades of the Victorian era. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Victorian — Queen Victoria. Science Technology. Arts Humanities.

Popular culture. By country. Further information: Victorian morality. Further information: Victorian fashion. Ladies' December Fashions Hand-coloured steel engraving from a women's magazine. See also: History of Canadian women. Rediscovering the British World. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

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Calgary: Calgary University Press. Women's History. Theodore Hoppen, The mid-Victorian generation, — , pp ff. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 6 November In Gilbert, Sandra; Susan Gubar eds. Norton Anthology of Literature by Women 2 ed. Manners and Morals of Victorian America. LCCN: Elizabeth Gray, "Angel of the House" in Adams, ed.

New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. U of Nebraska Press. Retrieved 11 November The Victorian House. London: Harper Perennial. London: Vintage Books. I never liked Sex and the City , the kind of thing where women only feel empowered once they find The Man. It is just not up my alley. There is nothing you can control about love. Everybody I met was going to be the guy I was going to spend my life with.

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What do I want to be saved from? Next time you see a single woman, instead of asking her where her boyfriend, husband or eunuch is, congratulate her on her accomplished sense of self and for reaching the solitary mountaintop by herself without a ring on her finger weighing her down like a male paperweight. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.

I like to do things that glorify being alone. I buy a candle that smells pretty, turn down the lights, and make a playlist of low-key songs.

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If you don't act like you've been hit by the plague when you're alone on a Friday night, and just see it as a chance to have fun by yourself, it's not a bad day. You find yourself. You understand what it means to love yourself , instead of putting all this energy into give and tug in a relationship.

I don't think that because I'm not married it's made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage. I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I enjoy my own company because there is no guarantee even if you are in a couple that the match will last all your life. And I like myself. Children make imaginary friends. If I have to do that, I will do that.

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