[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t irritates the tar out of me to hear feminists say that women were “oppressed” by not having the right to vote in olden days. Excuse me. . . oppressed? I must take exception to the semantics here, for is not plain to me that what was happening ought to be called by such a heinous name.
I am aware that some people might think it was a bad thing that women couldn’t vote. And I am aware that other people might think it was a good thing.
Well as you might expect, I am a third way thinker upon this subject. I would submit that women’s historical lack of voting rights was neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Rather, it was a morally indifferent state of affairs, based on a cultural consensus that was shared by men and women alike in the past.
Our ancestors lived in a very, very different world than we do, and their cultural norms were very, very different from ours, yet undoubtedly befitting to their world — a world mysterious and unknown to us nowadays. Who are we to judge?
So was it really, inherently, such a horrible thing after all, that women could not vote? And WHY was it inherently horrible? Why should it even matter? Did the average woman in those days honestly feel that voting was “all that”? Seriously. . . who are we new-fangled ones to judge the men and women of past times for their very different way of life, with its very different demands and pressure that we can no longer entirely fathom?
And needless to say, we all know that most men could not vote during most of those same years in which women could not vote, and that there was only a trivial time lag between full manhood suffrage and full womanhood suffrage.
Something else that nobody to my knowledge has pointed out, is that electoral politics as we nowadays know it is a very recent historical innovation. It virtually did not exist before the French Revolution, and came into focus gradually beginning in the early 1800s. So it is utterly vacuous to say that women were deprived of the vote for “centuries”, in case anybody wanted to say such a thing. In fact, the time window in which women couldn’t vote was historically very brief, and for most of that same stretch most men were similarly deprived. Yes, the more you whittle this down, the more trivial it looks.
As above, was it really such an unspeakable crime that the female population couldn’t always go to the polls during that comparatively trifling span of years?
Or is that entire concept nothing but feminist historiography, meant to wring pathos out of history for present-day political purposes by the device of retrojection? That would certainly conform to standard feminist tricknology, wouldn’t it?
Once again, I believe that women’s historical lack of voting rights was neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but a morally indifferent thing which ought to concern us very little at the present day. And I even think I am being generous, for to be intellectually honest I believe a case might be constructed that it was a positive good in the context of those times.However, I am willing to settle for “morally indifferent”, and call it quits.
Look, it’s simple. Once upon a time, women didn’t have the voting franchise because societal norms found nothing amiss about such an arrangement. Then times changed, norms changed, and women were admitted to the franchise. That’s all. And women were never, at any point along that general story-line, “oppressed.” Only within the feminist narrative were they “oppressed” — but there are other narratives.
Furthermore, women were never at any time deprived of any rights. You see, women’s “right” to vote simply did not exist in the first place — or not during the period when the so-called deprivation occurred. I mean that “rights” are only a figment. Only a mentation. Only a notion. Only a construct. Rights do not exist in their own right. They are not some mystical pure essence which hangs in the air all by itself — they must be conjured into existence by a strictly human will-to-power, and fixed by law or custom. Through the entirety of human history, people have been inventing new “rights”, in train with new appetites, where none existed previously. And I expect they will continue to do so.
So in conclusion, I wish that second and third-wave feminists would shut the hell up with their dishonest, self-laudatory rhetoric about “the vote”. Women can vote now, so the feminists need to quit tooting on that rusty old horn. It is getting really, really old. It really is.