As a historical romance novelist, I spend a good deal of time setting history on its ear. I mean, I stay inside the factual boundaries. I do my research. (Mostly so readers won’t tar and feather me.) But in some areas I take some pretty big liberties. Such as, even in the Middle Ages, my heroes had great teeth (not a blackened incisor or a missing molar to be found), they bathed regularly, no exceptions, and my heroines generally had a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude. They consider themselves the equal (or more) to any man. And that, we know, is pure fiction. In many cultures for many years, women were (and sometimes still are) considered little more than a commodity. Of course there were exceptions, but it hasn’t even been a hundred years since we got the right to vote. In 1840, common British law still prohibited a woman from owning property without her husband, and it’s only been a little more than half a century since American women were allowed to enroll in medical schools. For most of modern history, when women were married they were expected to work like slaves, bear children, and keep their mouths shut.
All these things make me a tad upset when I think about them. But to be absolutely honest, I’m not perfectly comfortable with the direction we’re taking now either. I worry, for instance, about the children of our modern society. Believe me, I understand why women work. Why they need to work, why they want to work, why they should work. But most women also want children, and if this generation’s mothers are in the workplace, that puts this generation’s kids in daycare. And no matter how phenomenal the daycare facilities are, we cannot pay others to love our children.
I also worry about marriage. Now don’t get me wrong, I, for one, don’t believe that matrimony is for the faint of heart. The divorce rate still stands at about 50%, which, I imagine, is one of the factors that encourages many couples to live together instead. But studies show there is more abuse among those couples than among couples who marry. And again, what about the kids produced from these unions?
I recently heard a theory that stated that the generation that was first put in daycare was the generation that began putting their parents’ in ‘old folk’s homes.’ I don’t want to go to an ‘old folk’s home.’ Remember the longevity test Helen had us take a few months ago? According to that, I’m supposed to live to be 106. I figure that would give me about thirty years to stare at the eggshell walls of some institution.
The heroine in my most recent novel, Seduced By Your Spell, out…..tomorrow, is a about a woman (who also happens to be a witch) who fictionalizes her history, making herself a widow and therefore being allowed more freedom than most women enjoyed in Regency England. But sometimes reality raises its ugly head even in my world. For instance, my wee, adorable daughter has been making noises about marriage lately and even though I adore her boyfriend, I worry. About everything. For instance, she’s brilliant, so sometimes I think she almost feels that she’s obliged to get her PhD and have some out-of-this-world career. But what if that’s not what she wants? What if she wants to be a housewife who stays at home, darns socks, and makes dinner every night. Is that okay or she failing the sisterhood?
So hmmm, what do you think? Are we on the right track? Which traditions should be nurtured and which should be drop-kicked into history? Should women be more serious about keeping their maiden names and hence retaining their identity? Should there be rings involved in a marriage ceremony or does that demonstrate a weird sense of ownership? Should the bride’s parents’ pay for the wedding or is that like paying a man to take her off their hands? And tell me, what do we do about the kids? Do we send them to daycare? Do we raise them ourselves? Or do we encourage our wee adorable brilliant daughter to stay home during their little ones' formative years?
Chime in. Neurotic minds want to know.
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