Monday 13 February 2023


First of all to say that it is a lovely day here and snowdrops, crocus, Christmas Roses and wallflowers out in the sunshine and obviously enjoying  it.   They really come into their own on really sunny days like today  -otherwise they just sulk in the undergrowth.

Well - attitudes to women. I began to think about it when I watched Shammima Begum on her interview on BBC2 the other evening.    And I felt so lucky that here in the UK I have honestly never felt inferior or been discriminated against for being a woman.   Perhaps being in the teaching profession all my working life helped.  One is just as likely to find a woman Head Teacher as a man.   And the same can be said of Heads of Departments.   This was certainly true until I retired at 50 - forty years ago.   I am assuming that nothing has changed (and hoping too).

But  I watched the interview - she was cold and appeared to me to have no feelings whatsoever.   But for the purposes of this post what pulled me up sharply was when they briefly showed an interview with her husband - in prison - not sure where.   The way he spoke about Shammima - they married after 'knowing' one another for a couple of hours.   She said he was loving at first but quickly became abusive.   He wouldn't let her go out alone.   They asked her if she would like them to be together.   She said a blunt 'no'.   When he was asked he said of course - 'she is my wife' - rather like indicating possession.

I thought back to my parents - did my father ever think of my mother in that way?   Of course not - they always seemed to be equal to me. In the same way that both my husbands were.   They took care of the bits they were good at and I did the same.   Neither husband was brilliant at 'keeping the books' so I dealt with the money side of things.   Once when I was very busy at school I complaineed to my husband that I really had too much to do.   He said he would take over the household finance.   I always paid all the bills on the last Friday in the month - when he hadn't done at the end of the first month he said he would do it the next week=end.     That was the end of that arrangement!   We had many a laugh about it afterwards.

And then I saw some women in burkas.   Burkas, which cover the whole of the body have to be worn when going outside -only the eyes are showing.   I understand that rich men buy their wives Designer clothes to wear underneath - but they are for their husband's eyes only.   Of course these women have grown up in this kind of society and accept - just as in many a country women of a very young age accept arranged marriage.

There are still so many places where women are discriminated against in some way (Afghanistan is a perfect example at the moment when education for girls has stopped.

I read where some States in the US would like to stop abortion - most people here I think would consider that a retrograde step.

I really would like to hear your views on this and on the idea of women in many countries being treated as second class citizens.   I would like to be filled in in the gaps in my knowledge. I think women got the vote fully here in the UK in 1928 - not a hundred years yet.   We still have a little way to go here but my goodnes, when we look at some other countries, how lucky we are.


the veg artist said...

This is such a massive topic, Weave. Equality (or as near as) in the workplace is one thing, feeling unsafe physically is quite another. In some ways it feels that as women gain more rights in some areas, resentment grows, particularly amongst young men. The online incel community has exploded, and many men seem unable to cope with rejection. Many of the mass shootings we hear about seem to have their roots in this. Perhaps it was ever thus. Years ago, one of my schoolfriends was killed by her boyfriend for wanting to break up with him. He then turned the shotgun on himself, and survived.

Pixie said...

Sometimes it seems that the world hates women and I don't know why. There is so much I want to say but I need to think about it before I can write something coherently.

As for Shamima Begum, I imagine she has shut down, to protect her mind and her heart. I have no idea what she went through or what she's like now but I can't imagine being married to an abusive man and losing all my children. It would leave a wound in me that would never properly heal I don't think.

Melinda from Ontario said...

I feel women still have to protect the gains they've made for rights and freedoms no matter where they live in the world. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Roe vs. Wade decision which gave women a constitutional right to an abortion. Right wing extremism is going strong in the U.S. In my mind, women and minorities are still living in dangerous times.

Debby said...

I believe that if you are a strong woman with who has strong boundaries about what she will and won't accept, it helps. The military was a struggle for me, because the rank seemed to provide some men the mindset that they could have and do whatever. I remember beginning work and having a dress code. Dresses every day. Women were paid less than men and this was not a hidden thing. Men needed to support their families. It had just gotten to the point where women did not automatically lose their jobs when they married. Here a woman could not have a credit card unless their husbands gave them permission. We have come a long way, and I certainly feel that we are being pushed back in these days.

But that being said, in college (in my 50s) the thing that I remember is how the boys talked to the girls. Filthy and suggestive. I'm not a prude, but to let someone overtly proposition you was an eye-opener for me. The girls seemed to find this flattering, and the 'bad boys' were popular. I couldn't help but think of how hard women fought to be treated as something more than objects.... and yet 50 years later, it was seemingly welcomed.

I don't understand our world sometimes.

Barbara Anne said...

I may be stepping on toes here, but my stand on abortion is if you think it's wrong, don't have one. As for men who say abortion is wrong, wear a condom every time and it won't be an issue!

As Melinda wrote, these remain dangerous times. Sad.


Rachel Phillips said...

Countries that adopt Sharia law as their legal justice system as many Islamic countries do and strictly enforce it then that is the culture the population abide by. We are fortunate that we do not live by this legal system, culture and religion of Islam.

jinxxxygirl said...

I've never been treated as a possession, nor do i know anyone who has. I have never been exposed to workplace discrimination age or gender.. While in the military at a club i felt disrespected on the dance floor and left him standing on the dance floor alone. At home i take care of the house and meals and hubby takes care of trash and outdoor stuff and any house repairs... its an equitable division.. :) and we both worked full time.. I believe in the right for women to choose what happens to their bodies. That everyone has to make their own choice on abortion but they should have that choice. I think alot of people loose sight of that when the abortion issue comes up.. I also believe we have no right to interfere with another countries traditions no matter how 'wrong' or backward they seem to us. We have enough trouble policing our own.. There you have it Pat .. not very popular opinions.. but you asked... lol Hugs! deb

Anonymous said...

I remember so clearly being in a meeting (in the late 1970s) in a federal government job and one of the older men said that the men being hired in a special training program needed to make more money than the planned salary level because "they have families to support". As the youngest and most junior person by far (and the only woman) I perhaps should have kept my mouth shut but of course I didn't - "women can have families to support too - I wonder if you would be willing to put your proposal in writing". It got very quiet.

The current furor here about abortion rights is to me very clearly about the ownership of women's bodies by men and is the thin edge of a wedge that will become more and more authoritarian if allowed to continue.



Librarian said...

Like you, Pat, I have never felt inferior for being a girl or a woman. But I am fully aware of the fact that in my country (which prides itself on being progressive and modern), we are still far from equal pay. For exactly the same job, HR departments usually have a "male" and a "female" salary in the drawer, and if they really, really want a woman who has been applying for a job but withdraws her application for some reason or other, the "male" salary is pulled out of the drawer to entice her to join the company.
Also, it was only in the 1970s that wives in Germany could take up work outside the house without needing their husband's permission, or to open a bank account in their own name.
And rape within a marriage has become a criminal offence that can be fully persecuted only some time in the 1990s, as far as I know.

Your parents set a wonderful example, as did mine. It is not for nothing that my Mum chose the term "life comrade" for the notification of my Dad's passing; they really were best friends, lovers and comrades ever since before my Mum turned 16. This is the kind of relationship I want with a man, and was lucky enough to find with my second husband, and now with O.K., too.

Susan said...

My sense is, as a woman, if you are brought up to believe you can achieve anything you put your mind to achieve, you are confident and will succeed in this old world. Upbringing is key and strong mothers that are also good role models are important. You are also right about abortion in the US. Roe v. Wade was struck down on the Federal level. This was largely accomplished by a conservative majority within the US system. It was a sad day and women were outraged. Many States are legislating abortion rights within individual states and President Biden supports this. In the last election, women voted for Biden. He supports abortion rights. The income gap between men and women continues in the US. Women have made some progress but more progress is needed. Teaching in the US is largely women. Unions seem to dictate pay and time in grade. Unions also, in my opinion, have to much control over US schools and teaching. I like pay for performance and this is sometimes counter to what Unions believe.

Anonymous said...

You certainly don’t shy away from controversial topics and good for you.

I worked in what was a male dominated profession and worked in that profession in four countries on three different continents. I did see a lot of discrimination - particularly in Australia. Women, especially at the more junior levels, were not treated the same as the men. One client I had didn’t like the fact that a woman (me) would be the senior manager on the job. They liked it even less whenI found quite a few problems. Being female did not impact my progression but that is because I was very good at my job.

Turning to abortion. If you believe life starts at conception then abortion is murder - nothing to do with a “woman’s right to choose”.

To close 43% of women voted for Trump

Snowdrop Jan

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such fascinating replies so far - do please keep them coming.

Virginia said...

Oh, you have got us thinking, again!

I live in New Zealand, which, in 1893 became the first self governing country in the world to give all women the vote, but still there is an ongoing battle for true equality. When I started Teachers Training, in the early 1970s, teachers for ‘bonded’ for three years after being paid during training, but if you were a woman and got married, your bond was cancelled, and you could walk away from the profession, and only continued your career if you re-signed your contract! There were certainly different pay rates for men and women in the public service at least until the 1950s.

Personally I’ve not experienced much sexism, but I am a fairly strong individual who is likely to stand up for myself, and for anyone near me I see being mistreated.

I am aware that it is young women who are in the majority in our universities- I think the figure for Law grads is around 60%. The balance of the Judiciary is moving towards equality.

However, it seems that many of these successful women achieve the heights by doing all the professional work AND still doing the majority of the childcare, home organisation, etc.

So, there’s a way to go. . .

Bob said...

I'll just zero in on the abortion topic. You might know, here in the U.S. our Supreme Court overruled a 50-year-old decision that has returned this matter to the states. So many from both sides miss the point. It did NOT outlaw abortions. Again, it returned governance of same to individual states. As a federalist society, that is not an absurd proposition. Some of our more conservative states have passed very restrictive laws restricting abortion access, to the annoyance of the so-called pro-choice group and delight of so-called pro-lifers. Conversely, more progressive state legislatures now have laws on the books that protect abortion access. While I consider myself pro-life, I can see the other side and I do not necessarily celebrate the overturning of the aforementioned Supreme Court decision. Alas, the extremes on both sides refuse to listen to each other and have meaningful conversation, so the emotional battle continues.

Anonymous said...

Australia and New Zealand can be rightly proud of gaining the right for women to vote. In South Australia it was the 18th Dec, 1894. A government site stated recently
"Following its colonisation in 1836, South Australian settlers lived under British common law whih made women subordinate to men in that they were subject to their fathers, and then to their husbands. Their property, income and children were the legal property of their husbands" I shudder to think what that must have been like, and as I researched my family tree, I came across the S. Aust suffragets petitions to Parliament and delighted to see many names from my husbands and my direct and extended family in support, - made me proud.
I have always rebelled against any male control or put-downs by my father, brother and bosses when I was a young woman. My mother was not strong on back-up, and then mercifully we had Women's Lib! My marriage is a partnership, and a strong one built on respect and friendship over 47 years.
Our state averages over four and a half thousand children in State Care each year. Perhaps those pregnancies could have been better planned and more responsibility taken on whatever level to prevent the disadvantage these children now suffer as a consequence.- Pam

Anonymous said...

...colonisation in 1834, not 1836. - Pam.

Ruta M. said...

While women are treated more equally in this country than in many others there is still a long way to go until we are truly equal. A very interesting and shocking read is Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez (also on Audible) which exposes the many ways our society is tailored for men. Things from government policy to medical research and even car safety. Well worth reading or at least dipping into. PS I'd had enough of cooking and once our sons left for university my husband willingly did his share while I was working. Now we're both retired we share the cooking duties.

Granny Sue said...

What a massive topic. When I was a child, my father was very firmly head of the house. But in the 60s my mother began to rebel. She got a job and had her own money. Dad was not happy and their marriage went through some rough times but they held together for 61 years, and although Dad always was pretty controlling I know there was deep love there.

In my career as a librarian, the Library Journal published an annual salary survey. Every year, male librarians started at higher salaries, advanced more quickly and were hired for higher positions more often than women. It was infuriating.

As a girl in high school I wanted to take the electricity class, as my Dad was an electricianand I often helped him around the house. I was told that Shop class was a prerequisite for electricity class...and girls were not allowed to take shop. Thankfully that changed some years later.

Here in the states, and my state in particular, it seems we are moving backward, not ahead with women's rights and roles. I am hopeful that my granddaughters' generation will get things back on a progressive soon as a lot of old white men finally give up the power they hold onto so firmly.

Cro Magnon said...

I was raised, almost exclusively, by women up until the age of about 8, so always had great respect for them which has never diminished. In the UK we have had 3 female PM's (all Con), and my current MP (Lucas, Green) is also female. Throughout my life our national figurehead was female; as is my wife. I cannot imagine ever seeing women as inferior; it is madness.

Margaret Butterworth said...

My first job in the 1960's was with Sheffield City Library. They had 2 recruitment leaflets, pink for girls and blue for boys. Boys could only apply for qualified librarian posts, because it was said that men could not live on a library assistants wage. I was a qualified librarian and later was given a job as a Branch Librarian "because I was not afraid to tell a man what to do"!

Fast forward to Australia where I live now. I knew a girl who met her husband at university and married him. He was a muslim. They were happy at first, running an oriental carpet business, and had two sons. The real fly in the ointment was his mother. This matriarch did not allow her daughter-in-law even to read books; she had to spend all her time with the children. She resorted to reading in the toilet! The marriage failed and she escaped with a number of expensive carpets!

Sue said...

It’s a large topic, no doubt, but very important and I have found the comments really interesting. I want to pick up on what Pixie said about women being hated because I think it is the nub of the debate. Years ago when I read Germaine Greer’s The female eunuch it upended my life. My gaze, my perspective, my life was turned around. And why? Because there is a part of the book (I no longer have a copy) when Germaine talked about the words some men used about women. They were so hateful and ugly and it shocked me. And yes I know not all men share those views, but there are enough to be a concern.

When I started working I was paid less than male counterparts, that has changed, but this is recent history. Recent history. This needs to be remembered. I can remember thinking that while the women’s movement was making great progress it was all a bit academic to women in low paid jobs who had no ability to change their situation.

There is so much to say, but the topic is huge.

Oh, and just for interest my first husband was a Muslim (from Malaysia) who was a Colombo plan student here in Australia. I was lucky enough to live there after marrying him and learned respect and love for a very different culture.

Thanks for introducing this topic.

Traveller said...

This is an interesting post and it is nice to see that the responses have been respectful

I look forward to the day when all that matters is the person…not their colour, sex, gender, sexual orientation, shoe size, hair colour, race, religion, social status (that will probably be one of the last to go), what school they attended or hat size.

As to abortion, to me it is not a black and white issue and I certainly don’t think it is an issue that should be decided only by women.

Thanks for raising these question Weaver of Grass and giving us something to think about.

Debby said...

Snowdrop Jan: I would be very interested to see where that 43% figure came from. First of all only 68.4% of eligible women voted in 2020 (unimaginable to me). In 2016 only 39% of women voted for Donald Trump. 43% of REPUBLICAN women voters, perhaps in 2020. I really would like to see where your figures came from. I see nothing that validates this.

Snowdrop Jan said...

Hi Debby - you are absolutely right I should have been more precise and said 43% of women who voted, voted for Trump.
One source can be found here:

Agree with you completely that it is incredible that 30% of eligible women voters didn’t vote.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Than you everyone. Yes a large topic but your replies have certainly givenme - and I hope others- such food for thought.

John Going Gently said...

I hear you arnt well ? Chin up deArheart x

Tom Stephenson said...

I still find it hard to believe that a woman's property became the man's after marriage not so long ago.

Traveller said...

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Debby said...

Hope you are better soon.

Terra said...

I am a retired librarian, still a rather female dominated profession and know how fortunate I am to live in the USA with all of our protections and blessings and which many other countries have including the UK and Europe and Australia and New Zealand. I note these countries' customs and laws are based on Judeo-Christian Greek and Roman roots. Nice to hear about all of the spring flowers you are enjoying.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Tom - yes it is interesting just how many things have changed in our lifetime isn't it

Thanks to you all..

Heather said...

Your garden must be a picture just now, with many more delights to follow.
You have certainly given us a big topic to think about. I can see why feminism took hold, but in some respects it has backfired. I enjoyed the days when men respected women and raised their hats, held a door open, or gave up their seat on a train or bus. That doesn't happen any more because too many young women didn't appreciate it. I know some men treated women badly, and still do, but they shouldn't all be 'tarred with the same brush'. If we all respect each other maybe the future will be better for everyone.