How The Fight For Gender Equality Has Evolved Over Time: Exploring The History Of Women’S Liberation
Bloody Brilliant Women explores parts of history that you weren’t taught in school, diving into the important milestones of women’s liberation and gender equality.
It looks at the evolution of women’s independence in the Victorian era, with laws designed to limit marriage and keep women as “property” of their husbands slowly changing throughout the decades.
You’ll find out about how female dissatisfaction in the 1940s sparked a sexual revolution by the 1960s, leading to more freedoms for women today.
Alongside this, you’ll learn incredible insights like why a returning soldier wasn’t always seen as a good thing for his wife, how one major innovation turned sex from “scary” to “exciting” for women, and even why Britain’s first female prime minister spoke like a man.
It’s bloody brilliant stuff!
Women In Victorian England Finally Gained Rights And Protection Through Progressive Court Decisions
During the Victorian Era, British women gained substantial autonomy through some groundbreaking changes in marriage laws.
The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 provided married women legal inheritance rights and the right to own any money they earned from their own work.
The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1884 prohibited husbands from keeping their wives locked up at home as punishment for refusing sexual advances.
This law was first interpreted and enforced in the Jackson Abduction court case of 1891.
These new marriage laws began to create a new era for British women, allowing them more independence.
In addition, the success of these early efforts to empower women led to further gains over the course of time including the suffrage movement during WWI.
Now British women have a broad set of legal rights that they were not afforded during most of England’s history, an incredible shift propelled by bold and determined women!
The Great War: How World War I Led To Women’S Suffrage In Britain
During the First World War, much of Britain’s men were deployed to fight on the frontline.
In turn, women who had previously been viewed as too delicate were now required to join the war effort and work in roles previously occupied exclusively by men.
One such policy that enabled women’s involvement was ‘dilution’, which allowed them to work in factories manufacturing weapons and ammunition for use against enemy forces.
By 1917, one of these factories- Woolwich Arsenal- employed a staggering 25,000 female workers.
In addition, some women joined Voluntary Aid Detachments – or VADs — who worked as semi-trained battlefield nurses.
One nurse in particular is remembered for her heroic efforts: Edith Cavell.
She went on to become one of the first casualties of the war after aiding more than 75 Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium—a huge contribution that earned recognition from British politicians such as Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
Women In Interwar Britain Gained The Right To Vote, Stand For Parliament, Teach, Become Magistrates And Divorce Their Partners
During the interwar era, women were increasingly recognizing the need for sexual freedom, reproductive rights and autonomy over their own bodies.
Women actively fought for these rights through organizations such as the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) which was co-founded by Stella Browne in 1936, who had also previously been involved in other groups such as Workers Birth Control Group.
Women also experienced various political and professional benefits during this time period.
In 1918 women won the right to vote, and just a year later Nancy Astor became the very first female MP to take her seat in the Commons.
The Sex Disqualification Removal Act was passed in 1919 and allowed married women to participate in certain professions they had previously been barred from like teaching or serving as magistrates.
Meanwhile in 1922 the Infanticide Act acknowledged postpartum psychosis as a severe illness that prevented new mothers from being charged with murder if they killed their infant child.
In 1923, divorce law changes also meant that both men and women now had equal power when it came to dissolving their marriage.
And finally, ten years after some women were first granted voting rights, 1928 saw all women over 21 given equal franchise through the Representation of the People Act.
The successes of these early feminists paved the way for advancements throughout history including today’s modern movements centered around reproductive health care access and rights.
Women Played An Unequal Yet Vital Role In Wwii Victory On The Home Front
When World War II began, women were once again asked to serve on the “home front,” performing essential duties while their husbands and fathers went off to fight.
They worked in arms production, agriculture and engineering—but they weren’t just doing men’s jobs.
Beatrice Shilling was a particularly notable female engineer, who developed a simple brass restrictor solution to the problem of sputtering engines in British fighter planes during air battles with better-equipped enemy forces.
In other roles, women managed canteens, prepared food, made clothes and even evacuated tens of thousands of children from Britain’s cities at the start of the conflict.
In mid-1943, it was estimated that 80% of married women and 90% of single women were working in some capacity on the home front.
However despite these efforts women still faced gender discrimination; receiving wages only 55% equivalent to their male colleagues for doing the same job and being unable to collect any compensation for injuries caused by enemy action in court like men could.
Despite this inequality, the Equal Compensation Campaign Committee achieved success: annulling discriminatory War Injury Compensation act in 1943.
Women played an integral role in World War II but were still subject to many unfair laws that did not recognize their equal worth or value.
Post-War Reconstruction In Britain: New Legislation Brings Changes And Challenges For Women, Families, And Veterans
The post-war era saw a major expansion of the welfare state in Britain, providing much-needed benefits to lower-class citizens.
This was hugely beneficial to women in this demographic, as they were provided with access to resources that had traditionally been reserved for the upper classes.
Operation Demobilization was also an important development for these women – returning troops created tensions at home, leading to an increase in problems such as domestic abuse and infidelity amongst couples.
Mental health issues amongst soldiers also contributed to marital difficulties – psychiatrists Eliot Slater and Moya Woodside’s study ‘Patterns of Marriage’ found that men who returned from the front line suffered from post-har “neurosis” (now known as PTSD), which caused further issues within affected households.
The results of demobilization had a drastic effect on society – divorce rates rose tenfold, peaking at 60,000 in 1947.
Thanks to new legislation, however, lower-class women gained important access to things like pensions, benefits for illness and maternity and funeral grants through the National Insurance Act of 1946.
The National Health Service Act of 1948 offered universal healthcare as well, helping many urban working-class women gain a better understanding of their bodies from an earlier age.
It is clear that while the expanded welfare state benefited these women greatly, demobilization had a decidedly mixed effect on them and their families.
The 1960S: The Birth Of The Second Wave Of Feminism Through Sexual Freedom And Contraception
In the 1960s, as women were given access to oral contraceptives and abortion rights, they found a newfound freedom in their sexuality.
This was revolutionary.
Thanks to the availability of the contraceptive pill (only available to married women initially and by 1962, 150,000 had taken it) women could finally enjoy sex without worrying about the consequences.
The result was a new understanding of sexuality that paved the way for radical beliefs around gender relations that we still feel today.
With books like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, Nell Dunn’s Talking to Women, and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, women of all ages began exploring their own feelings on gender roles and misogyny within society.
Writers tackled these issues with frankness and insight in a way that had never been seen before; conversations that were previously taboo suddenly had space to exist.
This shift in perceptions about sex and gender enabled women to break away from traditional gender roles and reclaim agency over their bodies – something that we continue to see today.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s not only offered physical liberation but also psychological liberation, unlocking an era where examining sexism became more accepted than ever before.
Margaret Thatcher Believed Meritocracy Alone Could Lead To Success, Ignoring Her Privilege And Diminishing Feminist Progress
Despite being a strong leader, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did nothing for the advancement of women.
In fact, her views on feminism and women’s rights were largely opposed to progress in this area.
She strongly believed in meritocracy and thought that hard work would lead to rewards regardless of gender, but she failed to recognize that much of her success was due to her privileged background.
She even once declared that women had already won their fight for equality, showing just how out of touch she was with the realities of the times.
Furthermore, under Thatcher’s reign as prime minister, the budget for The Equal Opportunities Commission was cut drastically – rendering it completely ineffectual – which shows how little regard she had for championing women’s causes.
It is clear that while Margaret Thatcher may have been a groundbreaking female leader, her policies and beliefs did nothing to advance other British women on their path towards true equality.
The final summary of Bloody Brilliant Women is clear: we owe a debt of gratitude to the countless women who paved the way for us, despite facing immense difficulty and often being rendered invisible in modern history.
These women fought for their rights and freedom, and ultimately succeeded in securing them for future generations.
This book celebrates those women and reveals their stories that are often forgotten or overlooked.
In doing so, it serves as a reminder of how far we have come and how much work there is still to do on our journey to true equality.