Excuse Me, You Got Some Feminism in My Regency Romance
EDIT: I will shortly be posting an update post that is actually meant to be taken seriously, but this is largely a joke post. 🙂
Today I’m here to talk to you about a somewhat controversial topic that annoys the bejeezus out of me — feminism in historical romances. Specifically, because I see it most often in this era, feminism in Regency romances.
Because, y’all. It doesn’t make sense. Some of the most progressive novels of that era were Jane Austen’s (ish). And yes, Jane Austen heroines are sometimes spicy and fiery, and the ideas she presented (and the overblown parodies of reality she wrote) (NOTE: I’m talking about feminism here, I’m talking about the CHARACTERS who were not all real-life but instead making fun of certain types of people) were huge for the era. I love me some Austen.
But still, that’s pretty tame. And it’s far, far less feminism than you see in literally any Regency romance you pick up off the shelf. Also, Jane Austen is a master while most of the historical romance authors you’ll find around are … not. They’re often good, but they’re not Jane Austen.
Historical romances — and Regency romances are the ones I’m picking on today — are as anachronistic as it comes when it comes to the ideas women present, the way men react to them, and basically just … all that.
But before we dive into my post-sized rant, some clarifications:
What do I mean by the Regency era?
The Regency era is technically 1811-1820, but I define it loosely as novels written in a style or in a way that hints at Jane Austen. *shrugs* I know most would say Georgette Heyer, but I don’t care about her.
Jane Austen is my role model, and Jane Austen I shall call the author of Regency romances who one must emulate, and Jane Austen I shall praise day and night.
Georgette Heyer, Georgette Schmeyer. Did she live through it? I think not.
What do I mean by feminism?
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m fine with some elements of feminism. The “woman are equal” and “women have brains” and “women should be allowed to vote and get whatever jobs they can get” part.
But not the “woman are the exact same as men” or “women are better than men” parts. Just nope. Nopety nope. Sorry, folks. That’ll be enough of that. *tosses all of these thoughts out the window and walks away casually as they fall screaming into the void*
That said, I mean all these elements when talking about feminism in this post. Just … the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the “I don’t even care” parts, as well. All of it.
With those clarifications in place, pull up a chair and grab a mug of hot cocoa, because Granny Kell’s gonna tell you a story. (Though don’t call me Granny.) (I’m just a child.) (Well, a young adult.) (Let’s call a spade a spade and not let me be more immature than I am already.)
A Story by Kellyn Roth
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Miss Gillseldina Grimelda the 3rd. Or Gillie, to her friends (of which she doesn’t have many). (Yay for cute nicknames for horrific old-fashioned names!)
Gillie loves books, and is somewhat shy, and allows her wicked Uncle Mortimer to abuse her. No, Uncle Mortimer never would hit Gillie, of course — this is a PG-rated story, after all!
But he does abuse her by taking away her books, insisting that her childhood dream of being a botanist librarian is ridiculous, and, most of all, says that because she is a girl, she is useless and stupid and silly.
Although Gillie was born in the Regency era, she is blissfully unaware of it. Every time a Regency era tradition or rule comes up, she is shocked. She must wear a corset!? And SHOES!?! AND IT’S UNLADYLIKE TO SLIDE DOWN BANISTERS!?!?!
Gillie comes to realize that her horrible Regency life is HOLDING HER BACK. It is AWFUL. She’s never known anything but it, of course, but Gillie refuses to acknowledge this. Instead, she whines about how her life is a prison compared to those 2010s girls.
Sadly, this is not the kind of story where Gillie can time travel to 2010. Instead, she is stuck in 1810. It really sucks for Gillie. She is so oppressed.
One day, while feeding her pet chipmunks, Gillie runs into Handsome McHandsomeface. We’ll call him Han for short.
Han and Gillie hit it off and spend the rest of the day walking about in the forest together. Gillie tells him about all her REBELLIOUS ideas — like reading and not wearing a corset and wearing her hair down and running about wild in the prairies without her bonnet on — and Han LOVES her for it.
Gillie is different than every woman Han has ever met because she enjoys reading and says really bold, obnoxious things and doesn’t at all understand the era she’s been born in.
Han is in love with Gillie, and after some mishaps of various sorts, he proves that he is an ACTUAL gentleman, having inherited 2010s feminist morals from … somewhere. He buys Gillie a botanist library and marries her, after proving that her Uncle Mortimer is an Absolute Idiot.
Uncle Mortimer dies of typhoid fever.
Do you like my story?
Good, ‘cause I could recommend 500 others just like it. 😉
The truth is, I actually somewhat enjoy elements of these stories (when not over-simplified, as such). I know a number of authors who have done really clever things with these tropes (Julie Klassen and Kristi Ann Hunter both write masterful Regency romances without driving readers insane, for instance).
But here’s the thing … did you catch the feminism? Because it wasn’t subtle. At all.
And I just really don’t understand how authors always manage to get so much feminism in my Regency romances!
Why is the feminism even there?
Here’s the thing … people like to include feminism in their historical stories. For no reason other than to show that they are Woke and they Understand that Back Then things were Not Ideal for Women.
But, first of all, they exaggerate some elements of the era (probably based on authors like Jane Austen, though she does it so much more subtly that I can’t imagine how we got here).
And then they put in their modern sensibilities to solve the problem, unlike Jane Austen, who never attempted to solve the problem of her era at all, except by pointing out that some things (read: most things) were irrevocably silly and random. (YES, I do know all about Regency-era inheritance and property laws, etc. I know it all. I WRITE Regency romance. So yeah. Don’t bother telling me. It was all insane stuff.)
It’s misplaced and weird, it doesn’t make sense for the era, and it’s just … annoying. A little trope or plot detail or whatever you want to call it that is included for the sake of including it.
Perhaps it’s to make the hero seem more heroic or the heroine more spicy, but let me tell you — it does not work. And it’s annoying.
And it never gets resolved, truly, at least in a realistic fashion.
And it takes the reader into some fantasy reality the author created for the sake of letting the author be Aware of how Bad things were back in Ye Olden Dayes.
There are times when it does work, of course.
The 1920s? Yeah. And even the 1890s. But you have to be aware of the era you’re working in. In the Regency era, it WASN’T uncommon for women to read novels, if they were well-educated, and a lot of them did have little side hobbies, even if they never turned serious, like botany librarianism.
In the 1880s and 1890s, there were some major changes in the way people thought of women as inheritance laws changed, women were found to be murderers, and more and more women attended colleges and got into different business endeavors.
But the thing is, not very many authors take the time to understand the context of the era they’re writing in, the way men and women truly viewed each other, the way gender roles (and all kinds of roles, in fact) were presented, and how people actually thought.
Or if the authors do think of these things, they fail to realistically portray them in their novels.
It’s not enough to know the kind of candle holder used in the era if you don’t understand the kind of people who used the candle.
Why heroes shouldn’t always be perfectly woke
This is probably my biggest issue with this trope: the hero always gets it. He’s never really a bigot, never really sexist (even if the heroine starts out believing he is).
The thing is, this gives us an unrealistic expectation of the Prince Charming’s Existence AND an unrealistic view of the past. The heroine never has to prove herself to the hero. The heroine doesn’t have to be unobnoxious or kind because He Just Gets Her.
The only reason he is actually the man for her is because he doesn’t have anything to do with the world around him — he is a man who exists beyond his era, and therefore doesn’t really exist at all.
He’s a figment of the imagination, not of the heroine who would not know what to imagine, but of the historical author who believes that a man would realistically behave that way in the era he was born into, raised into, etc.
And yeah, I’m currently with a guy who Just Gets My Quirkiness to a degree, but at the same time, I’m not gonna expect him to understand it immediately. Just to accept it and try to keep his mouth shut if it gets to weird. (Just kidding, Ian. If I start going off the deep end, reel me back in.)
But there’s a difference between a man understanding a woman’s quirkiness and falling for it (something that I believe should happen — never change who you are for a man because God is preparing someone for you who understands you — you don’t have to change for the Real Deal because the Real Deal was made for YOU and no one else on earth) … where was I?
Mini rant aside, there is a difference between that and a man in a historical romance time traveling from 2010 to 1810, his modern sensibilities intact.
Also, there’s a difference between understanding someone and giving in to a crazy woman who wants to start a botany library when it Just Isn’t Done. #holdupgirl #whatdoesthatmeanmean #chill
Why heroines shouldn’t always be perfectly woke
Mostly because if you’re constantly treated like a piece of property, you eventually adjust your thinking to “I am a piece of property” and find ways to cheat the system rather than moaning about your lot.
Okay, I’m joking … kinda. But how much more powerful would it be, if you really want to write this kind of story, to show a heroine who doesn’t get how she’s being treated and then wakes up to it?
That said, I’m also confused about why this has to be an issue presented at all. Why does the heroine have to feel stuck in her era? Maybe she’s fine with wearing a corset. I hear they give marvelous posture support.
Especially in the Regency era, due to the dress shapes, a corset (stays, for the more discerning reader) was actually not for crushing your insides but for support and modest. Like a long bra that mostly just covered your abdomen. Okay, but really. The Regency era is a weird one to whine about corsets in — try Victorian, and even then, it’s not as bad as it could be.
And the whole deal with always wanting Something More than to just be some random guy’s wife (you know, until Handsome McHandsomeface comes along)? Well, dangggg, girl. What’s wrong with being a wife and mother? Isn’t it kinda like … the best?
Also, what else could you possibly do in the era you were born in? Has no one told you about the property laws?
ALSO, I would like to point out that it is SUPER WEIRD for you, Miss Gillie, to be concerned about arranged marriages/marriages of convenience, marrying a man older than you, marrying your cousin, etc., because YOU HAVE BEEN RAISED SINCE CHILDHOOD TO BELIEVE ALL THESE THINGS ARE 100% NORMAL.
DAH HECK ARE YOU WHINING ABOUT, CHILD!?
Seriously, the amount of WHINING that you do about simple LIFE THINGS, Gillie. gEt UsED to YOUr ErA and ShUT tHe McFRICKeN ChIckEn TurKeY McGUrKey UP!!!
Covering up the past with our present.
Let me be honest: the past is more interesting. I read historical fiction to go back to the past, and yet historical authors are continually trying to insert the present into the past.
Okay, I’m probably wrong there — more than likely, historical authors are forgetting to NOT just write contemporary fiction but the Women Wear Dresses.
And that’s an issue because the past is still a thing. Yes, we shouldn’t get bogged down by it, but we can learn from it. But only if it is presented honestly.
Honesty really is the best policy, and the only way we can hope to grow as a culture. If we can take the good things, leave behind the bad, and move on, we can hope to improve rather than continue this big downhill race (dinna get me started, lass).
But … if we continue to look at the past and apply our modern thoughts to it, we won’t see the past. We will see a confusing muddle of our thoughts applied to their lives.
The thing is, it’s a mark of maturity to be able to look at someone else’s life … through their glasses — those old timey spectacles that are adorkably quirky on your heroine. (By the way, reading is not quirky. It’s something people do. Reading. See various Jane Austen heroines and all the lovers of Udolpho out there).
So we have to do that. We have to be able to look back on a culture very different from ours (e.g. Regency England) and interpret it in their way, or we’ll never write a novel that is truly realistic or good or true.
We can’t be perfect, but we can try, if we really want to. If we care about history. If we care about peoples’ lives. And if we care about not being selfish and stuck on our own ideas and views.
With that thought, I’ll leave you to ponder why you just read through so many of my nonsensical ramblings when you had 10 other things to be doing. 😉 Talk to you later!
Have you ever noticed misplaced feminism popping up in these sorts of novels? Does it effect your reading enjoyment at all? What are your thoughts on this whole subject? Is there a place for these types of issues in historical romances?
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[…] Hi there, everyone! This post is sort of a follow up to one I did a while back, “Excuse Me, You Got Some Feminism in My Regency Romance.“ […]
[…] folks! Today we’re having an unusual post. Due to a thread of comments on my February 2020 post, Excuse Me, You Got Some Feminism in My Regency Romance, I decided I would break down this (comedic, tongue-in-cheek) post with the utmost of seriousness […]
What do you think of my thoughts?
THIS POST I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW ?????????
I was reading your story aloud to my sister and we were both just sitting there cackling because tRUTH. I don’t read a lot of his-fic, but of the books I have read, I do see a lot of the annoying feminism clichés showing up where they’re not wanted. And I don’t get how, but pretty much the same kind of feminism clichés keep appearing in what are sUpPoSeD to be fAnTaSy novels. *Throws up hands in exasperation*
Seriously though, this post was gold. Please do more of these roasts.
Thanks, Merie! I live to entertain. 😉 But seriously, I’m really glad you and your sister both enjoyed the story! Definitely a classic. I’d be surprised if I didn’t win some awards! 😛
Right!? Whyyyy thoooo??? Why does it have to happen in ALLLL the books? Can we not give it a break?
I’ll have to remember to do that – I’ll just have to find other things I feel so passionately about!
you have saved me from my death of algebra and i love you for it
OKAY BUT IF WE SAY WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN
THEN WE SET MEN AS THE STANDARD
AND DEFEAT THE PURPOSE OF FEMINISM
*waves fist angrily* we’re not supposed to be better than men because men are not the standard by which we should live against i’m incensed
but seriously, this was hilarious and you need to do more
YES! I’ve never heard it expressed that way, but it is 110% trueee! Men are NOT a good standard – and if people were to break down feminism and realize that a lot of women just want to be “like men” (who at the same time they’re trying to degrade???), then it would all fall apart!
Girl, wow! I thought I was the only one fed up with this! I despise feminism (guys stare at me in shock when I say that, lol) and in a lot of ways I wish the suffrage movement had never happened, and for them to shove it down my throat in all my War Between the States books is so annoying! And yes, marriage and children, that is the ultimate goal! I won’t rant, but thanks for reminding me others notice this too!
Right there with you, Ryana!
I’m probably not as intense about this, in that I think there is a place for understanding that women and men are equal but different (this is not a race issue – it’s a gender one – and that’s different), and I don’t believe the ultimate goal for a woman is marriage and children, BUT that doesn’t stop me from being 1. uubbbeeerrr annoyed at modern day feminism which leaves no room for submission to Christ, etc., and in fact just turns women into big, overblown whiners – and 2. incorrectly portraying any aspect of feminism (or just alwayssss portraying aspects of feminism) in novels. Like, why!?
Okay so I obviously should have interviewed you for my college senior seminar paper, which was basically researching this concept. Would have saved me dozens of hours of research, panicking, and head-desking ? I read Heyer’s The Corinthian to compare with Sense & Sensibility and had to research WHYYY writers of “Regency era fiction” differed from writers who actually lived during that era. *Wants to grant you an honorary BA in English* While I didn’t mind The Corinthian and it actually sparked an interest in reading more Regency era literature, there were definitely a score of eye-rolling “yeah they totalllly thought/acted that way back then” moments ?
LOL! I probably would’ve been useless to interview – I can never get my thoughts down in an orderly manner when I actually need to. 😛 This was a random rant to replace a post I was gonna do today which wasn’t gonna come … but it turned out good because I actually wasn’t supposed to be thinking on it. *shrugs*
BUT THANK YOU! This comment so made my day. I haven’t worked nearly enough to get an honorary BA in English, lol, but hey, if it happens to happen … 😉 Jkkkk!
This was seriously a fantastic post!!! I absolutely LOVED it and will be coming back to read it again. The points you made were perfect!
Aww, thank you, Penny! 😀 I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic! (And your story! XD) I agree. It’s so frustrating when authors insert more modern ideas, especially feminism, into a story that is supposed to be set in a completely different time period where these modern thoughts/ideas would not realistically apply in that culture. (Another thing that is also annoying is when characters use modern phrases or speak in a more 21st century way, and not a 19th century/etc. way like they should in some historical fiction novels. >_< :P)
And I'm sure I could probably dive into more thoughts and comment on various other things you said, but you now reminded me again that I actually do have 10 other things I need to be doing right now, so…… XD
Thank you! Yes, it is frustrating – just frustrating and confusing and annoying. (I probably don’t always notice that, but I try to pick up on it!)
Haha! #truth I always have that many things to be doing, sooooo I hear ya?
Yes! I’m so tired of feminism being shoved in my face from every quarter, especially in fiction. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be historical fiction. It’s even annoying in contemporary, if you ask me. I wish writers would stop pushing agendas through their fiction and focus instead on the actual craft of writing. If focusing on the craft, messages are subtler and better received. They teach more than preach. And isn’t that supposed to be our goal: to woo our readers into our stories so they may learn life truths that they may then apply to their lives? But if we’re screaming our own personal tirades at them in annoying agenda-pushing style, they’re sure to hurl our books against the wall and stomp from the room and tell all their friends to avoid our books till the end of time. I’d rather not have my books so abused, nor my readers thus tortured.
Thanks for a very entertaining and oh-so-truthful article, Kellyn. 🙂
Thank you, Andrea! Yes, I agree – people need to focus on the craft if they want to get that message across (though I argue that it’s often still an inappropriate message … but if you do it, do it RIGHT!).
Exactly. I’m not one to want feminism as the lesson in books even if they’re done well, but that’s my personal opinion. At least its being done well would be less annoying than a smash-it-in-my-face approach.
I know this was written a year ago, but anyway. It’s similar to what happened with the 13th Doctor. I like that there is a female Doctor however, I would prefer that had been none that one written the way she was. I entirely blame the writer for this. With the themes of the episodes themselves the shove climate change, racism and sexism down the viewers throats. I agree with feminism and support activism for climate change and against racism, sexism etc. What was great about the previous Writers of Doctor Who and others I admire is that they were able to subtly underwrite the storyline with judgments and absurdities about our current and previous culture. The problem I found with the writing of the 13th Doctor was the obvious agenda of it all in a way my dear mother would call ‘American’. This is partially due to the writer being a writer of drama as apposed to sci-fi. The result of this writing is that I, a long-time lover of Doctor Who have stopped watching. To sum it up, I love when fiction makes me think about the beliefs I hold and hate it when the try and make the viewer feel a certain way. The exception to this is when I (an agnostic) read Christian Romance. I am happy to occasionally skip a bit of godly stuff so that I do not have to skip pages of sex scenes. I know it was a bit of a rant, but I hope it wasn’t too unintelligible. 🙂
Hi there! Happy to hear from you. I do enjoy Christian romance, so that’s my exception (as a Christian lol!), but otherwise, I agree with you! I do appreciate a little more subtly.
This was perfect!! Loved it — it is so absolutely true and is what annoys me most in this genre. ‘Cept, I thought I was the only one . . .
Nah, you’re definitely not the only one! There’s me (and a lot of these other commenters), so you’ve got company. 😛 It’s super annoying!
Regency…romance…already not my thing…and you know, it’s probably bc they usually sound exactly like Gillie’s?? For one, I know of some historical girls from that time or earlier who didn’t just sit around swooning over guys and they were nothing like that. They weren’t discontent feminists. They just got stuff done. And second, like you said, what’s so wrong with just being a Regency lady? I know a younger Kassie who daydreamed of living in the Civil War and sneaking off to fight…while also wishing with everything that I could just run around in a hoopskirt and ride sidesaddle.
Yeah, my restless Spartan spirit is glad to be alive rn and do things I couldn’t’ve any other era. But what’s so wrong with those other eras just the way they were (…for the most part)?
I hear ya! Oftentimes they are like that, and it’s not just frustrating – it’s nauseating. 😛 And if you’re not a romance lover, well, you will never love a romance because … yeah. And I say that as a romance lover and romance writer!!
Agreed! Let’s let the past be …
YES. ALL OF THIS. I totally agree that when it comes to historical fic, you NEED TO BE BRUTALLY ACCURATE. That’s probably why I’m scared to write my Civil War series – I want it to be as brutally accurate as possible. But in today’s day and age, I just know people will, unfortunately, cry foul.
(You’ve heard of K.M. Weiland, correct? She definitely doesn’t resort to the ideals masquerading as feminism)
I have to say though, while it wasn’t common, some women were involved with politics in ye olden days – to a degree. Look at the letters between John & Abigail Adams. If they weren’t talking about normal everyday stuff, they were talking about politics and the war. (Plus she pushed for girls to get an education and John agreed with her)
And WWII wasn’t the first time women took over business and work for the men in their lives – they did it in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars too. (They also did some propaganda stuff) It was really only after WWII that they began pushing for more and more women to be in workforce.
But other than that, I get so so annoyed at modern day feminism. It seems like they’re saying women can do anything they want! Except for being a SAH wife and mother. Apparently, they’re just holding women and ‘progress’ back if they choose that. -_-
I don’t care what they say though. I’d much rather have a baby spitting up on me then stressing about making it to work on time.
Yes, accuracy is always important! That’s pretty much what I’m saying – women were heavily involved in everything, in a certain way. Like, read Gone with the Wind, if you don’t think so … they were involved, but they oftentimes just didn’t want to say so. 😛 Any time there’s a war, women have to step up at home.
I think women can do just about anything (within reason) – but the question is should they. 😛 And the same goes for men – they can do just about anything (within reason) – but should they? 😉 But yup, modern day feminism can turn quite toxic.
YESSSS! I totally agree. I makes me SO mad when people write “historical fiction” where the main character has simply been transplanted from the modern era and dressed up in old fashioned clothes. But it’s even worse when writers do this to a REAL HISTORICAL PERSON. I once actually slapped a book shut in disgust when an author did that to the first published American poet (Anne Bradstreet). It made me so angry that I still simmer a bit when I think of it, and it strongly influenced my obsession with accuracy when I wrote “Where Daffodils Bloom”. Actually, come to think of it, I wrote a whole blog post explaining what was wrong with that Anne Bradstreet “biography”, and how the author was inserting her modern views into poor Anne (and how that affected my own writing). Here it is, if you’re interested Kellyn: http://www.leyadelray.com/2019/03/29/telling-true-stories-the-good-the-bad-and-the-not-2/
Great article, Leya! Historical inaccuracies are why I struggle SO MUCH with the biblical fiction genre. Too many liberties are taken to bend the truth we do know directly from the Bible, particularly about leading characters, which ends up misleading so many devoted readers into believing inaccurate things about how those events happened and who those people really were. Thanks for your insight!
I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Andrea! Yeah, I agree that biblical fiction is often done poorly. I think the best versions I’ve read are deeply researched book about minor biblical characters, where the (few) facts we do know from scripture are accurately woven in, and the rest is carefully researched and written to match the historical context. Seems so often, as soon as people write about major characters, they can’t keep themselves from contradicting at least some of the facts along the way.
Exactly! I really enjoyed a certain author’s debut book a few years ago, as it seemed quite accurate, but the third book in the series drove me batty because there were some blatant, wild inaccuracies of a very popular, well-known (and a personal favorite) story in the Bible. So I’m hesitant to read more of this author’s books, because I’m completely turned off by “biblical” fiction that doesn’t stick to biblical truths. So I’m slowly chipping away at the ones of this author’s that I have from NetGalley.
(Andrea, you should message the title to me if you think to! 😛 I want to avoid it … or at least be aware of it!)
I sent you links to my reviews of the trilogy (Hangouts).
Yup, I definitely agree! People 100% do that, and it’s super annoying! I did see that blog post a while back – I definitely agree. It’s not for us to say how an era much less how people were based on our own imagination, especially when writing biographies/biographical works!
Thank you!!! I’m glad you feel the same way about totally disregarding history to put in our own personal messages. I’m tired of seeing in books (and frankly, everywhere, it’s in movies too) people trying to “fix” the past by putting in modern agendas.
YES! Definitely agree. It’s definitely in movies and books. There are cases when it makes sense, but those are few and far in between, and people definitely try to replace reality with their modern agendas!
Yes, yes, YES! Louder for the people in the back, please! This annoys me SO MUCH – and not just in historical books; it’s in some fantasy books too! *grr* Not every heroine has to be a poster-child for the author’s ultra-feministic leanings, and you especially should not bring it out in historical fiction, not if you want to be true to the era you’re writing about. Please can we just get more of the “woman” and less of the “feminist” – thank you!
EXACTLY! It’s so ridiculous and random. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story, generally, too.
I completely agree!! I think it’s nice to understand that yes, there were some women who subscribed to ideas that would be considered modern for their time but you also make an excellent point about being “overly woke”. There comes a time when it is just plain unrealistic and that truly does a disservice to the men and women of that era. We have the advantage of looking back on these rather constructing rules but many of those women didn’t see it that way. That was life. There’s really nothing more I can add! Except – As a writer and someone especially fond of historical fiction, I always strive to accurately portray this period while still creating interesting and relatable stories. I will certainly keep in mind what you said about feminism and I hope to do the genre and era a great service 🙂
YES! Totally. I don’t know why this is, but it just is such a big issue in historical fiction. I’ve rarely met a woman who was aware of her era – and, despite the supposed intelligence of any woman in these books, I don’t see it because she doesn’t understand how her time works!
AHHH GREAT POST!
Although when you started the story I thought you were serious and eye-rolled sooooo hard ugh I hate those stories THEY ARE SO ILLOGICAL AND STUPID anyways rant over XD
Yes, I wasn’t serious! 😛 I would never write something like that for real – they’re so frustrating!
Researching feminist writings from the late 1700s to early 1800s brought me here. I somehow slogged through to the end of this post and I feel compelled to educate you. You seem extremely confused and angry about something you don’t understand. Luckily, there is a lot of information available outside of -Facebook and Fox News. I’ll help you get started:
-Feminism began long before the regency era.
– “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” was first published in 1792 – “a trailblazing feminist work which argues that the educational system deliberately trained women to be frivolous and incapable and that if girls were allowed the same advantages as boys, women would be not only exceptional wives and mothers but also capable workers”
-Feminism is not about demonizing motherhood, it’s about giving women equal ACCESS to areas of life that men had sole control over (full education, the ability to own property and run a business without needing a man’s permission, the ability to open a bank account, the ability to choose whether to marry and to whom, etc.)
-Both men and women wore high heels and stays (the precursor to the corset) in the 1700s and 1800s, but not all of them did and not all the time. Most regency historical dramas don’t focus on the early corset, but you made a big deal out of it so there you go.
-Women in regency England had no legal rights – their husband or other patriarch could prevent her from seeing her children, could take control of all of her money/inheritance, her husband decided how much money a woman got if he died which often meant reduction to poverty for women, and it was rare for women to inherit property because it often required no male heirs to exist ahead of her
-Only one regency era woman is recorded as successfully challenging laws that allowed her abusive husband to keep her children from her. Obviously, many more women in a similar situation weren’t so lucky
-Harriet Tubman was born a slave in 1820. Tell me again how someone brought up only knowing one way of life could never question it or rebel against it?
-One of the most popular publications in the regency era was Fordyce’s Sermons, which told women to be submissive, quiet, always look beautiful, and that the highest reward for a woman’s good behavior is male attention.
-It would be interesting to see what statements by female “woke” characters are so obnoxious to you. If you list the ones that bother you most, then perhaps we can talk about what it meant for each character in the scene, why it was important to the story, and how it probably doesn’t have anything to do with feminism but just character development instead.
-What were the exaggerations that Austen wrote about the time she lived in? She only wrote about what she knew and experienced, and historians agree that it’s accurate.
-Austen is considered a feminist because she wrote that women are created equal to men, that the laws at the time were unjust to women, and that women had little choice about their lives and their money
The only thing I agree with you about is that it would be interesting to read a story where the heroine realizes the world she’s been raised in is unjust and that she wants to take charge of her future. Elizabeth Bennett does this, but the book starts with her already aware of the injustices to women. Anne Elliott in Jane Austen’s Persuasion is a character who starts out timid, impressionable, and accepting of other’s orders, but she begins to see the injustice in that, grows with time to show great courage in the face of adversity and proves her love to the man who thought she’d forsaken him to go along with others. That’s why Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book.
Ugh. People who hate “woke culture” and “some of feminism” are so sadly ignorant and looking for something to be angry about. It’s a me vs. them mentality for no reason, where they hate the very people trying to help them. To understand feminism, look at how it started, and look at who started it – women, many of whom were happy to be mothers and several preferred no kids for themselves but just wanted their sisters to have a choice in the matter. And dare I say it, womanhood is much more than just making babies. Feminists were also the first ones to fight for the right to time off from work (ending sweat shops in the U.S.), to fight for protecting children from having to work, to fight for safe working conditions (women tended to die in factory fires), to fight for fair wages people could live on – even the first draft of social security so the elderly could retire comfortably. And so much more. Be a submissive mom if you want to, that’s your choice and good for you, but you have a choice because of the hard work of feminists who were beaten in the streets. Come on, dude. Read something.
Well, I know you’re not really interested in a reply, but first, this was a comedic post, and second, this is attacking a GENRE (modern historical romance set in the Regency era) that you may be ill familiar with, not books written during the era or anything of the sort. I adore Jane Austen, I know every fact you mentioned here about historical law and attitudes, and I simply feel it unrealistic to portray the era as what it is not … namely, to act like every character but the villains would not have an opinion
You seem to have missed large paragraphs of my post, however, when I pointed that out, so that’s fine. 😛 I actually have never watched Fox News, and I have nothing against feminism itself (unless that is saying that women are oppressed by getting married, etc., which is of course overblown). Nor did I state my opinions about the subject. You ASSUMED that. 🙂
So anyways, hope you have an amazing day and find some other blogs to terrorize if that makes you happy … oh, educate. Sorry. I misread words sometimes because, you know, I’m so dumb!
OH. I did go through the post and edit it to add large, red “THIS IS A JOKE” banners. Hope that helps!
Honestly, with the amount of information available, anyone who still loudly proclaims feminism is about putting women above men, or that motherhood is bad, or that marriage is bad, only make themselves ridiculous. You clearly don’t understand what feminism is. I told you plainly it is about equal rights, equal access, and the power of choice – but you still think it’s about hating wives for some reason. Where does this idea come from? Did you hear it first from a feminist, or from someone who hates feminists? You painted feminists in such an exaggerated, terrible, even mother/wife-hating light that you can’t really be surprised that you attract disdain for doing so, can you? I’m not sorry for being harsh in my disagreement with your post. I’m sure you’re a fine person, but your opinions on this show a paucity of information, willful ignorance, and a weakness of backbone in the face of centuries of patriarchal misinformation about everything feminists stood for. I’m not going to coddle you; I want you to be better.
If you really equate feminism with man-hating, wife-hating, and mother-hating, then of course you take issue with characters who remark on historical injustices in regards to women, you’re tired of a subject you equate with hatefulness. You claim to “know all the facts” about life for women in the past; would you be happy being told whom to marry, or that you would be expected to start having sex at 12? In your post, you claim it’s annoying for regency era romances to criticize the marriage process because you think it’s about criticizing marriage – it’s just about criticizing FORCED marriage. Feminists want women to have choice; marry or not, fine, whatever, but don’t force people to do something just because they happen to be female. If you really knew what good work feminists have done, and if you really believed life was unfair for women in the regency era, then why does the subject of women questioning society bother you so much? You’re backtracking. And now you contradict yourself in your reply, as if the blog isn’t above. You criticized Jane Austen for “exaggerating” how difficult life was for women at the time – I asked you how/why you think she exaggerates. You criticized modern historical dramas set in the regency era – especially adaptations of Austen’s work – for inserting “too much feminism” by making the female characters say “obnoxious things,” etc., and I asked you to give examples from those works. Are they scenes from the 2005 Pride & Prejudice? The Bridgerton series? Who knows, you didn’t say. I’m willing to bet they’re from scenes when the heroine isn’t being totally agreeable all the time, especially toward a male character, thereby failing to perform the role as a submissive female to attain the high honor of male attention, or to “prove her love” as you put it. I’m genuinely curious what you imagine that would look like. By the way, there are plenty of literary examples (with modern adaptations) of historical dramas where the heroine recognizes that she’s treated as property and then decides to game the system, as you requested. Incidentally, they’re mainly written by men. Madame Bovary is an example.
Disagreements can feel like power struggles where it is difficult to admit to an error or being wrong because it feels like giving up ground to an opponent. I don’t expect you to admit to being wrong about this or that, like the idea people raised a certain way would never question their way of life. But I would love if you started questioning your worldview – without taking my word for it or anyone else’s. For starters: Who were the first feminists? What did they stand for? Who said feminism is about hating motherhood or marriage altogether? What is humanism? What are human rights? Are men and women treated as equal humans, or are there differences in their basic rights? How has that changed over time? How is that change reflected in art? What are the specific moments from those artworks (like regency era romances) that make you uncomfortable and why?
I’ll have to reply to this via full blog post, which I shall in the next several months! I simply don’t want to flood the comment section with replies, etc. You may not see it, but even if you don’t, I think it’s worthwhile to get it all out there! I do have a lot to say on this subject, and I do have a clear thought process about it, but I don’t think a comment section is the place to fully explain my views. Thanks!
(As a sidenote, what I’ll have to do is go line by line on both your comments and on the blog post itself in several articles, so that’s the plan. It will take some time, but of course it’s worth it if only because people should know! However, I don’t think we will ever totally agree, so that is not the purpose of this. You plainly have a very different perspective on the world and people.)