“The adjustment of qualities is so perfect between men and women, and each is so necessary to the other, that the idea of inferiority is absurd.” Jenny June


Madame Demorest's Mirror of Fashion

Madame Demorest’s Mirror of Fashion

Jenny June

Wood's Household Magazine

Wood’s Household Magazine

Gail Hamilton

Harper's Bazar

Harper’s Bazar

Mary L Booth

Hearth and Home

Hearth and Home

Harriet Beecher Stowe


An Ideal Woman and Why We Hate Her

Oh, don't you look  so smug in your perfection!

Oh, don’t you look so smug in your perfection!

“. . . she carried out her duties as mistress of a small family with ‘piety, patience, frugality and industry’. Moreover,

‘… her ardent and unceasing flow of spirits, extreme activity and diligence, her punctuality, uprightness and remarkable frugality, combined with a firm reliance on God … carried her through the severest times of pressure, both with credit and respectability …’ (The General Baptist Repository and Missionary Observer, 1840).” bbc history of victorian women

Here’s why we don’t like you, dear: You make us look bad–and selfish. You save money, dress with no hint of muffin-top or dirty flip-flop feet and in general seem to  actually take your place in society seriously.


We moderns scoff at manners and “rigid” rules. You see the value in a well-run household. And damn those studies that actually prove children thrive  in predictable, nurturing settings! And the homemade family suppers you insist upon–turns out you were annoyingly right about them as well.


Keeping busy at the church? Statistically people who attend church regularly are more active in their community so just being spiritual doesn’t seem to cut it. As much as we brow beat you, dear, and try to convince you that being an office manager is as important as raising the next generation of adults and that being a salaried employee automatically makes you happy and that free love and the abandonment of your place as moral arbiter will make you EQUAL to men, you demur with that look of placid innocence we despise.


You don’t have to have rabid Facebook wars–pro-choice vs pro-life–that honestly would make you sick. You give us that scolding look that shows how shocked and dismayed at how hostile and ugly we’ve allowed ourselves to become. At least pretend to have some manners, you say. Our language shocks you and how we laugh when children repeat it!


You’re not sure you believe in evolution at all. Unless there’s a species that devolves. You wonder at how often we speak of happiness instead of goodness and we laugh at you mockingly. If there’s no such thing as truth then there’s no such thing as goodness. You’d know that if you were paying attention to something other than being perfect.


You look at us like we’re mad.


The 19th Century Women Responsible for Questions about Womanhood


I’m traveling over to England today to talk about one of my favorite subjects–women– on Helen Hollick’s blog Let us Talk of Many Things; of Books and Queens and Pirates, of History and Kings . . .

Helen has written a ton of historical fiction and pirate-based adventure fantasy novels. She’s been traditionally and independently published. Her blog has a lot of great information about publishing, queens, pirates, history and kings! Come over the pond for a visit!

A New Woman: Fanny Benjamin Johnston

Self Portrait as "New Woman"

Self Portrait as “New Woman”

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“While Johnston was running her studio in Washington, feminist campaigns to secure the vote and other rights were encouraging women to break out of their domestic roles. In 1897, she published an article in the Ladies’ Home Journal urging women to consider photography as a means of supporting themselves. “To an energetic, ambitious woman with even ordinary opportunities, success is always possible,” she wrote, adding that “hard, intelligent and conscientious work seldom fails to develop small beginnings into large results.” Johnston also used her influence to help other American female artists—for example, arranging exhibits of their work for the 1900 Paris Exposition. Her portraits of Susan B. Anthony, taken that same year, capture the stoic determination that the feminist leader needed—for half a century—to hold together the competing groups working toward women’s suffrage. And yet there is no evidence that Johnston ever participated in a feminist campaign.”  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Victorian-Womanhood-in-All-Its-Guises.html

A nice room of her own.

A nice room of her own.

American sensuality in studio.

American sensuality in studio.

Portrait of artist.

Portrait of artist.

Photographer's studio

Photographer’s studio

Images Library of Congress