Many things that are completely normal for women today were actually an impossible dream 10 decades ago. This is both saddening and relieving because women have always been suffering in the most unreasonable ways throughout history, yet, today, we’ve come a long way in changing women’s ordinary life all over the world.
Not more than 100 years ago, women had to fight for basic rights just because they were born females while men enjoyed all the freedom and privileges a society could offer. Women weren’t even allowed to enter certain places or do certain things on their own. They had to deal with constant sexism and discrimination, eventually leading to the birth of women’s rights movements to fight back and continue fighting until we got where we are today. And there’s still a long way to go, especially for women in developing countries.
But to understand women’s history a little bit better, let’s take a look at these 10 ordinary things women were prohibited from doing 10 decades ago to see just how far we’ve come.
10. Shopping alone
Today, it’s beyond normal to see women shopping, whether alone or not. But, back about ten decades in time, all ladies were supposed to never leave the house unless accompanied by a man, particularly when shopping.
In fact, not only women’s clothes shops but women were also banned from entering many other places alone.
This discriminative rule was apparently implanted to keep women safe, requiring every woman to have a man who can take her shopping and make it possible for her to step outside the house.
9. Wearing pants
When looking at women’s pictures from the past, it’s easy to notice that all women were wearing dresses or skirts. Although they certainly looked very charming and incredibly pretty, there was the hidden fact that dresses and skirts were their only options at the time. Women weren’t allowed to wear pants because it wasn’t socially acceptable, and in some places, pants were even illegal since a woman wearing pants represented the image of either rebellion or masculinity. And of course, women were expected to be obedient and feminine. Now, it’s even hard to imagine how entire societies agreed on such unreasonable limitations.
8. The right to vote
Voting today carries a huge load of fighting and struggling so that everyone, especially women, could register to vote and decide their countries’ fate, as well as their own. The reason why women weren’t allowed to vote is that men believed women weren’t mentally prepared to vote and should better stay away from politics. Well, thank heavens for the voting rights act of 1965.
7. Opening a bank account
In the past, women weren’t allowed to get loans or even open up a bank account in their own name. Women couldn’t apply for loans or have a credit card. If a woman was married, she’d require her husband to sign the papers so she could have a bank account or credit card. As for the single ladies, they would need their father’s signature.
6. Joining the military
The military was a man’s thing and it was extremely rare to have women join the military, except when a country was at war and desperately needed extra soldiers. But besides drastic measures, women were generally prohibited from joining the military. Again, because military service was purely masculine and women were supposed to stay at home, take care of the kids, and be as feminine as possible.
5. Serving on a jury
Women were also banned from serving on a jury. There’s only one case in which they could sit on a jury and that’s when they are defendants or 3rd parties. But why? Well, apparently, it was because society regarded women as too sympathetic and too sensitive beings, as well as they lacked critical and objective thinking. Therefore, they could never be part of any serious cases.
4. Having access to contraceptive pills
In the middle of the 20th century, birth control had only started to be legal in certain parts of the world. However, it wasn’t legal for all women, just the ones who were married. Unfortunately, single ladies had to wait a few years before being able to have easy and legal access to contraceptive pills. Not to mention that these pills had to be tested on so many women who suffered plenty of side effects before the next generation of pills was available on the market. Later on, other methods of birth control started to show up and now women have a variety of options to control their bodies and give birth only when they’re ready.
3. Having their personal passport if they were married
Although women could have their own passports in the past, things would change as soon as they get married. A married woman was obliged to get a joint passport with her husband because it wasn’t acceptable for married ladies to travel abroad alone. So a joint passport would prevent them from leaving the country without their husbands.
2. Keeping their job while pregnant
In the past, a job and pregnancy could never happen at the same time. This is actually a perfect example of sexism that women had to struggle with. Women could be instantly denied a job or even get fired as soon as the employer knows that they were pregnant. In the US, a law to make this discriminative behavior stop didn’t appear until 1978.
1. Becoming a lawyer
Ironically, girls were allowed to go to law school but their dreams of becoming lawyers were simply impossible because they would be denied the right to actually become a lawyer and practice what they’ve learned to plead clients’ cases. It was like giving someone wings but prohibiting them from flying. Do you know any other prohibitions women had to deal with or are still dealing with in the present?