The rights of beautiful persons are loudly discussed in society today, despite the fact that they cannot be compared with the conditions in which a woman lived in the 19th century. In the past, even very recent, the rights of young ladies were very limited. And if the women of the 19th century in Russia and other countries of Europe and America were poor, then they had no rights at all. Is that the right to life, and then with restrictions.
With some irony, a Victorian-era philosopher observed that a 19th-century woman had a limited choice: she could be either a queen or no one.
For many centuries, young girls left their parental home, entering into marriage, while not making this decision on their own, only on the basis of parental consent. Divorce could also be concluded only on the basis of the husband's request, without questioning his word.
No matter how strange these facts may be, but this was exactly the way of life of a woman in the 19th century. Photos and illustrations,portraits and descriptions of the Victorian era paint a picture of chic and magnificent outfits, however, do not forget that only the we althiest persons could afford portraits and memoirs. But even famous women of the 19th century faced an insurmountable amount of inequality in a world ruled exclusively by men. Even when beautiful people sat on the throne.
Not so long ago it was unthinkable to even think about the participation of women in public life. Legally, women practically did not exist in the 19th century. The women of Russia received the right to vote after the 1917 revolution, although in the territory of Finland, which was part of the Empire, they received the right to vote in 1906. England introduced the right to vote for women only in 1918, and the United States - in 1920, but even then only for whites.
Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
Even at the beginning of the last century, in many countries, women who suffered from sexually transmitted diseases were quarantined. However, there has never been a quarantine for men suffering from the same diseases, despite the fact that men were also carriers of these infections.
In England, a law was passed according to which any woman who accused a man of having infected her with a venereal infection was subject to a gynecological examination … by the police.
Depending on the decision of the police officer, the woman could be punished and quarantined. Which was not really a solution to the problem.
19th century woman as "subhuman"
Long timebeautiful persons had the legal status of "non-personality". This meant that they could not open a bank account in their own name, could not conclude a sale and purchase agreement, and could not even make decisions about medical intervention in their own body.
All this, instead of a woman, was decided by a husband, father or brother. The men also managed all their property, often including what they received as dowries.
A British journalist found in a newspaper dating from the second half of the 19th century, the price set by a house of brothel for the first sexual relations with underage girls: 5 pounds.
Under the "premiere" in a sexual context was understood the right of the first night. The owners of brothels in big cities were constantly looking for 12-13-year-old girls from poor families, whom they could persuade into prostitution even after the "premiere".
It should be noted that at that time there were no clear rules for the protection of minors. Pedophilia was considered a simple and noble sexual fantasy, accessible to those who had money.
What did women look like in the 19th century?
The suit was terribly uncomfortable and unhe althy. A large number of layers, corsets, ribbons and powders - all this made it much more difficult for women to breathe. It's good that it was in a good tone to lose consciousness.
How women dressed in the 19th century depended on social status and financial status. At this time, fashion and style changed with a dizzyingspeed. Already in the 1830s, the luxurious Empire style was replaced by romanticism. Romanticism did not last long. From the middle of the nineteenth century, the style of the second rococo came into fashion, which was soon replaced by positivism. Unfortunately, only aristocratic young ladies and those women who were lucky enough to be born rich or successfully married allowed themselves to follow all this.
Women, forced to earn a living by honest labor, had only two options: either to be hired to run the household by we althy owners, or to work in a factory, usually in the clothing, weaving or knitting industry.
However, no one ever entered into a work contract with them, so women in the 19th century had no rights in the workplace either.
They worked as much as the employer demanded, received as much as he was willing to pay. If women suffered from asthma while processing linen, cotton and wool, no one provided them with medical care. If she fell ill, she risked losing her job.
In the early nineteenth century, any man could divorce his wife on grounds of infidelity, which, however, did not apply to a man. A wife had no right to refuse her husband a divorce.
It wasn't until 1853 that British law secured a woman's right to divorce, but for reasons other than infidelity. These reasons were: excessive cruelty, incest and bigamy.
In any case, even if the husband was guilty ofdivorce, all property and custody of the children remained with him, because a wife without a husband not only had no means of subsistence, but also did not have the legal status of a “person.”
Also in the UK until 1925, a woman could not legally inherit property (in the absence of a will) as long as there was a male successor, even if it was a distant relative.
Even the inheritance of items such as jewelry, furniture and clothing was limited. In the case of a will, the woman owned the property, but the law stipulated that she must have a male curator to oversee the use of the property.
Two centuries ago, any husband, father, or other close relative of a woman could declare her renunciation. For this, the presence of two witnesses was sufficient. As a result, many women were sent to shelters, boarding schools and monasteries, and their property or rights to property went to men.
Infections during childbirth
Birth was one of the most difficult experiences for women in the 19th century, especially before the benefits of sterilization were discovered.
Midwives worked in unhygienic conditions, and their work was sometimes done by men who were not always doctors. Often, a hairdresser could also be called to give birth.
Even the doctors did not know the primitive rules of hygiene. They went to the woman in labor without washing their hands after a previous birth, which could sometimes cause fatal infections. As a result, out of a hundred women who gave birth, at least nine wereinfected, and three of them died of sepsis.