The conversation took a high turn, as it often does on such occasions. The ruin of good men by bad wives, and, more particularly, the frustration of many a promising youth`s high aims and hopes and the extinction of his energies by an early imprudent marriage, was the theme.
“I did for myself that way thoroughly,” said the trusser with a contemplative bitterness that was well-night resentful. “I married at eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence `ot.” He pointed at himself and family with a wave of the hand intended to bring out the penuriousness of the exhibition.
The young woman his wife, who seemed accustomed to such remarks, acted as if she did not hear them, and continued her intermittent private words of tender trifles to the sleeping and waking child, who was just big enough to be placed a moment on the bench beside her when she wished to ease her arms. The man continued –
“I haven`t more than fifteen shillings in the world, and yet I am a good experienced hand in my line. I`d challenge England to beat me in the fodder business; and if I were a free man again I`d be worth a thousand pounds before I`d done `ot. But a fellow never knows these little things until all chance of acting upon `em is past.
“For my part, I don`t see why men who have got wives and don`t want e`m, shouldn`t get rid of e`m as these gypsy fellows do their old horses,” said the man in the tent. “Why shouldn`t they put `em up and sell `em by auction to men who are in need of such articles? Hey? Why, begad, I`d sell mine this minute if anyone would buy her!”
~~ The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy ~~
The last woman to be sold at public auction in Britain was 1928. Maybe a little time is needed to let that piece of information sink in. There have been many moral abominations in human history; the countless millions killed in wars, acts of genocide and plain old murder in all of it`s many forms. The Holocaust and North Atlantic Slave Trade spring readily to mind when thinking of pure evil committed by people on others; but what about the results of thousands of years of toxic masculinity forced upon women? At one time or another – indeed, even now in the world, women have been subjugated to not just outright social invisibility, but to have been deprived of even the basic human rights that constitute a free person. The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte is a wonderful example of how women and their children were thought of in law as the property of their husbands. A husband could beat his wife and send her to a lunatic asylum if he so chose, simply if she disobeyed him. The novel follows the trials and tribulations of a young wife running away from her brute of a husband, and taking her young son with her. She was going against the law of the land as well as the accepted rule of a husband who could do what ever he wished to her – within reason. This reason encompassed daily beatings if she disobeyed or argued with him.
Politics were considered too complicated for the female mind to comprehend. Men thought they would only end up arguing and throwing punches at each other when their brains became over heated by it`s complexity. This perceived feminine weakness in debate was also used as an excuse to deny girls the rights to a full and proper education; they existed to marry someone rich, which in turn, would benefit her family. A gobby, educated young women would frighten off any suitor looking for a meek and mild breeding machine whose only function was to produce enough healthy progeny to ensure the survival of the family name, power and wealth.
Such works of great fiction like The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall and Thomas Hardy`s, The Mayor Of Casterbridge, brought the servility imposed upon women by men into the full glare of their Victorian readership; treating them as something akin to cattle to be used, abused and bought and sold at a whim. Justly, the slave trade is a blight upon European history, but it must be pointed out that slaves were rounded up by their fellow black Africans and sold to the white man to use on plantations in the New World; without them, the trade would not have existed. Also, Black Africans had been dealing in the slavery of their own peoples with the Islamic world for a thousand years. When money is to be made, no amount of ethical or moral codes are going to save you from the boogeyman.
Think of this, and then think upon millennia of women as virtual slaves in their own homes; men have ruled as a relentless force supported by religion and state, enshrining this power in a framework of law. Certainly in the Abrahamic religions, women have been forced into subservience and obedience to the male. This role in society continues to this day; women are still seen as sex objects by men. How would men like it if women wolf whistled them, squeezed their backsides or testicles, and basically viewed them as nothing more than attractive slabs of meat to fuck, then caste aside as used goods once they had been road tested? This is the role of Woman – or at least had been; it`s a cultural thing, where education is needed to change male attitudes. This can happen in a number of ways; social media is the biggest influence in the modern world, whereby people receive their daily dose of what is happening in the world. Attitudes and ideas can be altered and moulded fairly quickly by this rapid fire form of information, but it will still take a huge investment in time and effort by right thinking people (by this I mean those with a fully functioning moral compass) to give back to women their rightful place in the world as – at the least – equals. This will occur only if the fire breathing dragon of toxic masculinity is slain and thrown into the pit.