The Education of Women

d84222e538a3faf0a798298102a0810cI ran across this article on MSN about a recent discovery of an advice column from England in the 1690s. It’s an interesting read to find out what people were concerned about over 300 years ago. It seems to be that their idea of an advice column was not the same as ours today. Today, advice columns tend to be more about situations and relationships, where in this version it was anything from science questions to advice on morals.

One of the questions posed I found very interesting:

“Q: Is it proper for women to be learned?

A: All grant that they may have some learning, but the question is of what sort, and to what degree? Some indeed think they have learned enough if they can distinguish between their husband’s breeches and another man’s… Others think they may pardonably enough read, but by no means be trifled with writing. Others again, that they ought neither to write nor read. A degree yet higher are those who would have them read plays, novels, and romances—with perhaps a little history, but by all means terminating their studies there, and not letting them meddle with philosophy… because it takes them off from their domestic affairs and because it generally fills them of themselves… ’tis a weakness common to our own sex as well as theirs… We see no reason why women should not be learned now. For if we have seen one lady gone mad with learning… there are a hundred men could be named, whom the same cause has rendered fit for bedlam.”

I feel like this question gives us great insight into how far we have come in how we treat women. Women were in most cultures not even 2nd class citizens as much as property. When you read the paragraph of an answer, it makes it sound like a man asked the question, “how much food should I give my dog each day?”.

There is no consideration of how education of women would benefit the women themselves but rather how their education would affect the men they are with. For some men apparently liked to keep their wives uneducated.

Why? It’s a form of control. If the women can’t read then they are less likely to think for themselves or even realize they are capable of it. An opinion by an educated woman, threatens the control and authority of the man.

While on the one hand we have come very far with women’s rights, we still only make 75 cents to a man’s dollar.

As a female athlete I literally have to work 15 times harder to get the same respect. It’s part of the reason I started this blog. A male athlete at top of their sport wakes up, trains, gets paid millions and doesn’t have to even try to get exposure, it’s just given. A female athlete works just as hard and is just as amazing on top of their craft and gets paid either nothing or next to it. Very few female athletes get recognized for their skill first or at all and it’s 2015.

We need to be asking why.

The one who has the key to education holds the key to opportunity. We must continue to encourage women in both education and athletics. Provide more programs for girls and encourage them that it’s OK to be strong and actually even expected.

Maybe one day in 2300 they will look at our advice columns with the same disbelief at how we could deprive women of opportunity.

Here is the article:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/offbeat/the-questions-people-asked-advice-columnists-in-the-1690s/ar-BBj1BYm

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