Sunday, November 20, 2005

You've Got To Be Kidding!

If you're been reading my BLOG for awhile then you know I love history, research, and that I'm a big advocate for women's rights. You also know that I love the victorian period and love to design victorian doll patterns for my Linda Walsh Originals website.

So, I decided to do a little research on Women's Rights (or I should say lack of women's rights) in the Victorian Era and my fascination for that period. I quickly came to the conclusion that while I love the fashions of the Victorian period, I clearly could never have been a victorian woman and here's why.

The following excerpts were taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "The Victorian Era (1837 to 1901) symbolized by the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria was a very difficult period for women, because of the vision of the "ideal women" shared by most in the society."

"The legal rights of married women were similar to those of children. They could not vote or sue or even own property. Also, they were seen as pure and clean. Because of this view, their bodies were seen as temples which should not be adorned with makeup nor should they be used for such pleasurable things as sex. The role of women was to have children and tend to the house. They could not hold jobs unless they were those of a teacher nor were they allowed to have their own checking accounts or savings accounts. In the end, they were to be treated as saints, but saints that had no legal rights. "

Does this sound like "women should be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen" or what? I can't see a modern day woman wanting to tolerate that. No voting, no suing, no property. Must remain pure and clean in body and soul. I don't think so.

"In the Victorian Era the law regarded a married couple as one person. The husband was responsible for his wife and bound by law to protect her. She was supposed to obey him and he had the right to enforce this. The personal property the wife brought into the marriage was then owned by the husband, even in case of a divorce. The income of the wife belonged completely to her husband and the custody of children belonged to the father as well. He was able to refuse any contact between the mother and her children. The wife was not able to conclude a contract on her own. She needed her husband’s agreement. In addition, the married woman could not be punished for certain offences, such as theft or burglary if she acted under the command of her husband. It was impossible to charge the wife for concealing her husband and for stealing from her husband as they were one person in law. "

I can't possibly imagine that any female in her right mind would think that this made sense. Is it any wonder that they wrote "obey" out of the marriage vows of today? Personal property of the wife became the husband's. Can you imagine a husband saying to his wife "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, too." And, the wife saying, "Yes, of course, dear!"

During this time women had no legal say in how many children they would have nor would they get custody of children if the marriage ended in divorce. You have to say to yourself, "Were they out of their minds!" No say in how many children you're going to have? I just shake my head.

"A very special connection existed between women and their brothers. Sisters had to treat their brothers as they would treat their future husbands. They were dependent on their male family members as the brother’s affection might secure their future in case their husband treated them badly or they did not get married at all. "

The Victorian men had the Victorian women trapped. If you didn't get married, basically, your brother owned you. If you did get married then your husband owned you.

At that time educated women working in academic jobs were considered abnormal and monstrous. ABNORMAL and MONSTEROUS! I bet all the women professors of today would just love to hear this. The only jobs open to women were governess, servant, teacher at boarding school, nurse or author.

"The attitude towards women and education was that education of women needn’t be the same as that of men. Women were supposed to know the things necessary to bring up their children and to keep house. That’s why subjects as history, geography and general literature were of extreme importance, whereas Latin and Greek were of little importance. Woman who wanted to study something like law, physics, engineering, science or art were satirized and dismissed. People thought that it was unnecessary for women to go to a university. It was even said that studying was against their nature and that it could make them ill. They should stay more or less an “Ornament of Society” and be subordinate to their husbands. Obedience was the only requirement. "

Studying was against their nature and could make them ill. I MUST be very sick then. Ornament of society - NEVER. No wonder the women revolted. No wonder the feminist movement was born out of this period?

But, best of all Victorian women had to be SUBORDINATE to their husbands. All I can say to that is, "You've got to be kidding! My husband would hate that."

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Am All That and More!

When I think of a "Lady" either I picture someone like Audrey Hepburns' character in "My Fair Lady" or I picture a Victorian woman like the picture to the left. Someone refined and dignified. Someone who has good manners and who also just happens to be wearing a beautiful Victorian dress. I always seem to get back to the Victorian dresses, don't I? Must be an obsession. Yah think? In my mind, a "Lady" is the ultimate perfect female. But, is she really?

So, let's take a good look at what constitutes a "Lady." According to the American Heritage Dictionary a "Lady" is a woman having the refined habits, gentle manners, and sense of responsibility often associated with breeding, culture, and high station; the feminine equivalent of a gentleman.

Hmmm! That definition is too narrow minded and socially conscious. Not exactly the definition I had in mind. So, maybe we should take a look at the qualities of a "Lady" in her home and on the street as defined by the dictionary, and others:

1) A Lady should be quiet in her manners. Okay, easy enough. But, not to the point of being invisible.

2) A Lady should speak in a gentle tone of voice. Even when scolding your children? Hmmm! Or someone who is picking on someone else. Hmmm!

3) A Lady should be careful to wound no ones feelings. This is not always possible.

4) A Lady should give generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. Generously and freely, yes. Purely! I don't know about that.

5) A Lady should scorn no one openly. Sometimes this is exactly what is required.

6) A Lady should should feel gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior and the ignorant. A "Lady" should do everything she can to help others in need, but NOT to judge anyone as inferior or ignorant. That would be placing herself above others and smacks of a "caste" system.

7) A Lady should carry herself with an innocence and single heartedness which disarms ill nature, and wins respect and love from all. Couldn't agree more.

8) A true Lady walks the street, wrapped in a mantle of proper reserve, so impenetrable that insult and coarse familiarity shrink from her. Some would confuse this with being a snob and looking down one's nose at others.

9) A true Lady carries with her a congenial atmosphere which attracts all, and puts all at their ease. I think everyone should act this way, not just a "Lady."

10) A Lady walks quietly through the streets, seeing and hearing nothing that she ought not to. Not a good idea to walk through the city streets with blindfolds on. You need to be aware of everything that is going on around you. Also, who determines what a "Lady" should or should not see? Doesn't she have a mind of her own?

11) A Lady walks through the streets recognizing acquaintances with a courteous bow, and friends with words of greeting. Manners are always a good thing.

12) A Lady is always unobtrusive, never talks loudly, or laughs boisterously, or does anything to attract the attention of the passers-by. Don't draw attention to yourself. Come on? Is she never supposed to have a good laugh?

13) A Lady walks along in her own quiet, lady-like way, and by her preoccupation is secure from any annoyance. What do you want her to do scurry along the street like a mouse? Don't be noticed and definitely don't mingle with the "common" folk. They might annoy you.

14) A true lady in the street, as in the parlor is modest, discreet, kind and obliging. This rule was definitely made up by a "man" or should I say "Gentleman."

15) A Lady never speaks or acts in anger. Sometimes this can't be helped. Generally, it's not a good idea to speak or act when angry whether you're a male or a female.

16) A Lady learns to govern herself and to be gentle and patient. Self control, self discipline, and patience are good qualities.

17) A true Lady always remembers that, valuable as the gift of speech is, silence is often more valuable. A truly intelligent person knows this, not just a "Lady."

18) A true Lady does not neglect the little things as they can affect the comfort of others. We should always think of others first.

19) A true Lady learns to deny herself and prefers others. Not sure I agree.

Well, now we know what a true "Lady" is. Not exactly my idea of the ultimate female. I think the definition and qualities of a "Lady" if she is to be the ultimate female needs to be redefined to fit the modern woman of today.

I think a true "Lady" should be defined as someone who is confident in herself and her capabilities. Someone who has goals and aspirations and isn't afraid to pursue them. Someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind and reprimand someone when that is what is required. Someone who can lead and command respect. Someone who is loyal to her family and friends. Someone who inspires others to always strive for the best in themselves in in others. Someone who has the courage of her convictions. Someone who can use her authority when it is required. Someone who can caress and comfort anyone who is in distress. Someone who can laugh with children and lose herself in their imagination once in awhile. Someone who isn't afraid to get her hands "dirty." Someone with skills who is willing to try anything, at least once. Someone who loves and respects others and wants nothing but the best for them. Someone who tries to see the good in others. Someone who will try her best to help others succeed. Someone who will accept others with all their faults and love them just the same. Someone who always tries to put her best foot forward, but isn't afraid to fail. Someone who can see the beauty in life. Someone who doesn't judge others by their pocketbook or social standing. Someone who can stand tall and be dignified at the same time. Someone who allows herself to be "human." Someone who doesn't define herself by her gender and doesn't allow others to do so either. A "Lady" is someone who is proud to say "I am all that and more." Bring the Victorian dress on!


Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Dead Heat! Which Way Will It Go?

We promised to let you know from time to time what the results were for our "Should our Victorian "Ladies" remain faceless?" poll. Well, we are in a dead heat. That's right. A DEAD HEAT! It's 50 to 50. Fifty percent of you say the Victorians should remain faceless and fifty percent of you say the Victorian "Ladies" should have faces.

As far as the sexes are concerned, 95% of the respondents were female (no surprise there) with only ONE lone vote cast by a very brave male. My older brother would have a heart attack if he knew that a male had visited my Linda Walsh Originals doll pattern website. He hates dolls. Personally, I can't understand how anyone could hate dolls, but that's me.

In any event, it could now go either way.

Stay tuned. It may be such a close race that we'll need the Supreme Court to decide the outcome. How exciting! A Dead Heat! Which Way Will It Go?

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Fun Is In The Learning

Don't you just love it when you learn something new. I do. I must take after my father who was always tinkering on things just to see how they work. No sooner had we gotten a TV set (back when TV sets were the latest invention - yes, I'm dating myself) then my Dad was tinkering with his new "toy." He'd take the tubes (I think that's what they were called) out and move them around just to see what would happen. Naturally, since he was tinkering with a brand new TV set my Mother would want to strangle him. Sometimes, of course, he'd totally screw up the picture and then we were without the latest invention until he figured out how to fix it. When we'd complain he'd say "Kids, the fun is in the learning!"

So, I must take after my Dad as I love to try something new and figure out how it works all by myself. My husband, of course, thinks it would be easier to just read the manual and learn how something works that way. To that I respond, "Where's the fun in that? I want to figure it out on my own." My brothers and sister and I must all take after our Dad in this way as we all love to "tinker".

So, today, I decided I wanted to take a screenshot of my Linda Walsh Originals home page. I knew there had to be a way to do it. I decided to go out to "Ask Jeeves" and ask "How do I take a screenshot of a webpage?" The answer was so simple. Go to the webpage you want, hit the PRINT SCRN button on your keyboard (which copies the image to the clipboard), open up any graphics program (I used the reliable old dinosaur MSPaint), and then paste the image from the clipboard.

Two seconds later I had my Linda Walsh Originals home page open in MSPaint. Of course, I also had my browser's topbars and sidebars so I had to crop them out of the picture and then save my image as a .jpeg file. The image was rather large so I decided to resize my image in Adobe Photoshop down to 332x248 pixels. I could have down this in MS Picture It (another old dinosaur program) but, decided instead to do it in Adobe Photoshop as it is so easy to resize an image in that program. Since Adobe saves the image with it's own extensions (I used .psd) I had to re-open the image in MS Picture It and re-save it as a .jpeg file.

A couple minutes later I had a manageable screenshot of my Linda Walsh Originals homepage. So, since I'm like a little kid in a candy shop when I've learned something new I just had to share it. As my Dad said "The fun is in the learning!" As usual, Dad, you were right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hey, Mom, Fix My Toy! Woof! Woof!

Don't you just love this picture. I do. It reminds me of the countless times I had to mend my doll and/or their clothes. This picture was part of the Vintage Workshop package of FREE Holiday Art Download made available to subscribers of Country Marketplace magazine in their October 2005 issue.

It also reminds me of what I'm doing today which is fixing an electronic plush doll that my dog has broken. My guy doesn't like plain old plush toys. Nope. Not him. His have to be electronic toys. The kind that say something, move, vibrate, sing, or dance. You know, the kind of toy you might buy for your children to play with.

You see, he thinks he's human. I actually have to go to the toy store to buy electronic toys for him. Usually the clerk will say "Oh, who's having a birthday." I respond "They're for my dog!" They, of course, look at me like I'm crazy.

So, I take the toys home and he bites at them until he bites thru the little wire that is connected to the area on their arm or leg that you press to turn them on. Then he brings them over to me and dumps them in my lap. He looks up at me with his little eyes as if to say "Hey, Mom, fix em! He won't work!" Then I have to cut them open and fix them for him.

He sits patiently next to my sewing chair until I do. Then he's off to the races, barking and biting at the toy until he breaks it again. Oh, well. He loves his electronic toys. Woof! Woof! "Hey, Mom, fix my toy! He won't work!" Kids! Make that dogs!