In the ancient world, sons were preferred to daughters because they were expected to support their parents in old age. In the Arab world, if a woman gave birth to a daughter who was considered “superfluous” to requirements, she would be taken into the desert and buried alive. The Prophet himself is said to have put an end to this barbaric practice, and indeed while the religion is today often attacked as violating women’s rights, Islam goes out of its way to protect both sexes. So-called gender apartheid reduces both the risks of sexual assault from predatory males and of false allegations from malicious or simply deranged females, of which there are many in the West. Under Islam, girls prowess in STEM fields far exceeds that of Western universities, which have been largely corrupted by feminist indoctrination.
Education has without doubt been the greatest emancipator of women as for men of humble stock. Throughout the Middle Ages, only the daughters of the very wealthy were educated. This was because there were no computers, and books were both rare and expensive. Training a teacher or a doctor required a heavier investment of human resources than today, so a student who might become pregnant at any time was at a disadvantage to anyone of the opposite sex.
Literacy increased with the introduction of the printing press, and by the Renaissance, the daughters of the upper classes were often extremely well educated. There were a number of famous female artists, including Lavinia Fontana whose works are easily found by a Google search. She was trained by her father, and was clearly the apple of his eye.
By the Nineteenth Century, the education of women had been extended to the middle classes, and this led to a rise in social activism, not all of it useful. The first Women’s Rights Convention (so-called) was held at Seneca Falls in 1846, and is often hailed as a watershed, but not everyone was impressed. The 1854 convention was also held in New York State, and was reported in the London Times of March 4 wherein quoting an American journalist a correspondent pointed out: “While these women are wasting time at Albany, nurses are wanted in every part of the country, at wages ranging from $5 to $25 per month, according to capability. These women complain that they are deprived of their rights, have no opportunity of making money, and yet they refuse to fill situations when offered”.
The nascent women’s movement may have made a lot of noise, but it was all-male parliaments that delivered. In the UK, the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 conferred the right of married women to retain their own earnings and to inherit property, something that had been severely limited prior to its enactment. This was followed by the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882, similar legislation being extended to much of the rest of the world. In 1885, the age of consent in England and Wales was raised from 13 to 16 specifically to protect young girls from sexual exploitation. This is in stark contrast to feminist and homosexual groups that clamoured from the late Twentieth Century to lower the age of consent. Homosexual activist Peter Tatchell wanted it lowered to 14!
Nursing has of course been a major employer of women, as has that other caring profession, teaching. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of both nursery assistants and primary school teachers have long been women, something which alone debunks the ludicrous feminist claims of gender roles being a sinister plot by the mythical patriarchy. Who owns a child for the first seven years of its life?
Although doctors remained overwhelmingly male throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century, women were increasingly attracted to the profession, and as this document from the 1930s proves, by this time the only barriers faced by young women who wished to enter the medical field were the same as those faced by men.
Developments in medicine and the associated technologies have greatly improved the quality of life of people the world over, women as much as men. Ever thought what it must be like to have a serious operation or even a tooth pulled without some form of pain relief?
In 1846, the American dentist Thomas Green Morton employed general anaesthesia for the first time. Childbirth can be not only painful but dangerous. In 1842, Thomas Watson made the simple suggestion that physicians and those attending births should wash their hands with chlorine between patients.
In the Middle Ages, a woman might have ten children and be lucky to see five or six of them survive. By 1880, in England and Wales, the infant mortality rate (deaths under one year old) had dropped to 153 per thousand live births. In Russia, it was 286. Between 2013 and 2018, there were 3.9 deaths per thousand live births in the United Kingdom, thanks to the dedication and perseverance of (overwhelmingly male) medical researchers and doctors.
Next to safer childbirth and reduced infant mortality, arguably the greatest medical gift to women was the development of the birth control pill. Until the 1960s, birth control had been hit and miss, to put it mildly, but the male doctors responsible for this innovation – including Carl Djerassi (pictured) – did more than any self-styled suffragettes before or feminists since to empower women.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.