During Victorian Era:
- Women were seen as pure and clean, their bodies were seen as temples that should not be decorated with jewelry nor used for physical activities or pleasurable sex.
- Could not oppose men
- Wealthy or spinster was an exception
- Single women were pitied
- The main purpose for women was to marry and reproduce
- Women had to marry and upon doing so everything they owned, inherited, and earned automatically belonged to their husband
- Women worked ages 8-12 and stopped when they got married
- They could not vote
- Women in 1851 had no legal rights such as being able to be a legal guardian of their own children
- Women provided a flexible, cheap, and adaptive workforce for factories and sweatshops
- As the 19th century progressed, gender-specific employment grew
- Women had no rights to take upon high positions
- Men had the right to divorce his wife on the grounds of adultery
- But a woman had to prove her husband guilty of adultery “…combined with cruelty, bigamy, incest, or b*stiality” (“Marriage”)
- Being a poor Victorian couple, divorce was not an option. Yet being a poor Victorian wife, you also had no individual rights under the law
- until the passing of the 1870 and 1883 Married Women’s Property Acts. (These acts gave the right to own property to all married women)
- Under the law, any married couple were seen as one “entity” and obviously, her husband represented her “entity”
- The husband then becomes the manager and is entitled to all the earnings of the wife’s properties
- If a woman took a lover it was not made public. If it did become public knowledge she would be cut by society.
- But men had the right to go to gentlemen clubs and engage with anyone
- Birth control literature was illegal and the average working-class wife was either pregnant or breastfeeding from wedding day to menopause
- marriages were more businesslike and less romantic compared to fairy-tale love stories we see in movies and read in novels today
- Women spoke with grace
- Women were expected to listen more than they spoke and to concentrate on speaking with a quiet tone.
- Men and women avoided showing emotion and maintained a quiet tone
- There were extremely strict codes of morals and conduct
- Children were not allowed to be loud and did not spend much time with their parents
- A lady did not wear a dress that would show her ankles
- Men did not call single women by their first name unless they were engaged
- Motherhood was expected of a married woman and the childless single woman was a figure to be pitied
- Girls received less education than boys (where education was specialized by gender)
- Were banned from universities, and could obtain only low-paid jobs.
- She could not follow a profession, since they were all closed to women.
Expectations for children:
- Wealthy or poor children were held in fairly low regard by the culture. They were expected to behave like little adults and to be self-reliant at a very early age.
- Childish enthusiasm and playfulness were repressed; obedience and conformity were imperative. Older siblings, especially girls, were expected to care for their younger siblings.
- With no laws to protect children from exploitation, they were
- Expected to work long hours in harsh environments.
- Education was regarded as a privilege for those families that could afford it
- Children were often forced to work as soon as they were old enough. This was not something new to the Victorian period as children had always been expected to work as soon as they were old enough for a century.
- One of the jobs: Chimney sweepers (The young boys would be forced to climb the narrow dirty chimneys to clean out the soot.)
- When in 1832 use of boys for this job was prohibited by the law, the law was not enforced