My older son was tasked with writing a speech for school. He had to choose a line from a Broadway or musical and write about that line. It had to be one line. I am not really good at listening to those sorts of instructions which is probably why I was always in trouble at school but Greg is very good at getting things right. I was allowed to play songs from various musicals for him to listen to. I could listen with him but I wasn’t allowed to make suggestions or comment in any way on his choice of line [Teenagers – sigh! They take all the fun out of life. This was such a great topic I was itching to butt in!]
Greg chose the line “…. the gentle sex was made for man t’marry” from My Fair Lady. Great choice – I was still banned from saying anything to I went off to bake with Michael. I was, however, allowed to listen to him practice his speech once it was finished. Greg had decided to speak about sexism and had done some interesting research about this topic. I thought his speech was so good that I thought I would blog it [with my interjections included in italics because I just can’t stay out of anything].
Sexism through the ages by Gregory Cheadle aged 13 years and 11 months
In 1847, three books called: Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre were published. They were published under the names: Ellis Bell, Acton Bell and Currer Bell. These books were actually written by the three Bronte sisters who wrote under pseudonyms. [The reason that they Bronte sisters elected to publish their books using male pseudonyms is that critics were very prejudicial and condescending towards female authors at that time].
I this speech I will be discussing the issue of sexism after getting inspiration from the line “the gentle sex was made for man t’marry.” from My Fair Lady.
Sexism has come a long way since ancient times. In ancient China there was a law that stated that a daughter must obey her father, a wife must obey her husband and a window my obey her son. This law was called the three obedience’s law. This was a long time ago but sexism has been an issue in much more recent times.
Women were only given the right to earn equal pay to men across the world in the early 1970’s. Up until 1965 a married woman in France could not work without her husband’s permission. There was a similar law in other European countries. The first country to give all woman the right to vote was New Zealand in 1893 and the most recent country to give women the right to vote is Saudi Arabia in 2011. In most countries women had to fight for the right to vote in a movement called the women’s suffrage. [The United States granted women the right to vote in 1920. One should remember that men also had to fight for the vote and prior to 1918 in the United Kingdom voting was not only restricted by gender but also by property qualifications.]
Compulsory education for girls was first declared in 1592 in the territory called the German Duchy Palatine Zweibrücken (German: Pfalz-Zweibrücken), one of the states that constituted the Holy Roman Empire. [Compulsory education for boys was introduced in this territory at the same time]. In certain parts of some countries, girls still cannot go to school. [The Massachusetts School Laws, three legislative acts enacted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1642, 1647, and 1648, are generally regarded as the first steps toward compulsory education in the United States. In particular, the law passed in 1647 required every town having more than 50 families to hire a teacher and every town of more than 100 families to establish a school. Prussia introduced a modern compulsory education for boys and girls, from age 5 to 13-14, in 1763. The United Kingdom was slow in introducing compulsory education due to the upper class defending its educational privilege. Education to age 10 was made compulsory in the United Kingdom in 1880.]
Sexism is still all around us but things are getting better and recently the United Kingdom elected their second female prime minister. Let us all home that sexism will be a thing of the past in our lifetimes. [Only 9 of the 100 most influential scientists of all time listed by the Britannica Guide to the World’s Most Influential People are women, with the earliest of these being, Nettie Maria Stevens, born in July 1861, followed by Marie Curie, born in November 1867.]
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