Are you ready for an adventure?
We’re going time traveling! (Never mind, for a moment, notions of physics and philosophy which suggest that past, present, and future are all present now and now is what there is.)
We’ll begin with a quote from a book that is an old friend of mine:
A man and wife are one person in law; the wife loses all her rights as a single woman, and her existence is entirely absorbed in that of her husband. He is civilly responsible for her acts, she lives under his protection or cover, and her condition is called coverture.
A woman’s body belongs to her husband; she is in his custody, and he can enforce his right by a writ of habeas corpus.
What was her personal property before marriage, such as money in hand, money at the bank, jewels, household goods, clothes, etc., becomes absolutely her husband’s, and he may assign or dispose of them at his pleasure whether he and his wife live together or not.
A wife’s chattels real (i.e., estates) become her husband’s.
Neither the Courts of Common law nor Equity have any direct power to oblige a man to support his wife…
The legal custody of children belongs to the father. During the life-time of a sane father, the mother has no rights over her children, except limited power over infants, and the father may take them from her and dispose of them as he sees fit.
A married woman cannot sue or be sued for contracts — nor can she enter into contracts except as an agent of her husband; that is to say, her word alone is not binding in law…
A husband and wife cannot be found guilty of conspiracy, as that offence cannot be committed unless there are two persons.
Which, depending on where you are and how you got there, may explain a lot!
Now, a couple of questions.
What did you notice as you read? What did you wonder?
I’m betting that one of the things you’re wondering about is the source of this quote. I learned it from Carolyn Heilbrun’s magnificent book, Writing A Woman’s Life. The quote itself is from a pamphlet, Married Women and the Law by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon in the USA, 1854.
It’s true that many of us are in a different place, today.
But, just in case you think we haven’t quite made it to the world we’d like our granddaughters to grow up in… or our grandsons, for that matter… what, then, do we do?
According to Professor Heilbrun, we need to “write” new stories about women’s lives.
Thus, we’re traveling toward the Future which is, in language and people I’m only beginning to know, already possible.
In fact, I have a flock of new friends working together on moving toward what our fearless leader, Julie Steelman, refers to as Financial Sovereignty. And, yes, I’m in a new class! It’s called Blossom and Roar.
We’ve only just begun and yet the connections and ironies are firing in my head a mile a minute.
I’m learning to ask different questions about money than the ones history has deposited deep within the consciousness of many women, even women of privilege, who grew up in families who lived in the days when Bodichon was painting a word picture of life in the USA.
I’m learning new definitions for corporate financial buzz words that never really worked for me.
And, I’m stunned, in light of recent media attention on child sexual abuse and trafficking, by the materialization of the movie, Pretty Woman, somewhere in my cable TV universe last night, while I was busy pondering these words. Suddenly, a film I’ve appreciated for years, mostly for the journey and also for the final line, feels profoundly more important in the sense of things that need to be conscious.
So why all this today?
Well, because I have two granddaughters growing up in this world. Because it matters. And because the way to change things is to gather together and talk about them and allow them to be conscious. And to set aside any notions we might be harboring that it’s just too hard or we don’t get it.
And to vote. (Painting helps, too!)
I’ll admit that these thoughts are a bit babbly and not fully processed at the moment, rather like the glimpse of my CODEX painting, above, but thanks for being here anyway! And, for this moment, a slightly edited reminder from my hypnosis training:
Take a deep breath. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Shake off the journeys, keeping only what’s helpful. Come back to where you are and be with you!