Although writing can help decipher history, it’s our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

11 surprising facts about marriage in the old days

Biblically, a traditional marriage has been defined by “a state instituted and ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and one woman as wife.” However, your ancestors hoped for in a “traditional marriage” isn’t quite the roses and white picket fence that they believe it to be. Even though the definition of marriage as “an agreement between two people” has never changed, if you take a look into history it seems as though the idea of traditional marriage has.


BY 


1. People didn’t marry for love.

In “traditional marriage," love was considered a childish notion that had no place in a marriage. A conservative once predicted that marrying for love would destroy the institution. In ancient Rome it was believed to be inappropriate for husbands and wives to be in love; Seneca, the philosopher, said that there was nothing more impure than a man loving his wife like a mistress. The advice in the 1700s was to get married to someone you could tolerate—progress! But it wasn’t until the 1920s that people started marrying for love en masse, coining the term “love marriage."

2. People weren’t happy to get married.

Loving, blissful commitment wasn’t exactly synonymous with the true traditional marriage our ancient ancestors experienced. Why? Marriage was an arrangement that many were forced into. Four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia, marriage was equivalent to slavery; in the year 400 A.D. many church officials actually opposed marriage describing it as “bondage.”

3. People didn’t get married to have babies.

People got married for so many reasons! Because they were lonely, because their family needed a goat, because their parents couldn’t afford to feed them any longer, because they needed to strengthen their political position, or because a brother’s wife died and he needed a new one. Procreation was often a consequence of being married but it’s been proven that it often wasn’t the main goal, especially for families that weren't of the noble classes, who had large inheritances to think about.


4. The women didn’t have a say.

A blissful, traditional marriage is depicted as the husband and wife discussing issues and forming to decisions together for the good of their family. In a "traditional marriage,” this was not so. During American colonial times, William Blackstone stated that the “very existence of a woman is suspended during a marriage” and that she ceased to exist as a person without thought or voice. Basically, once she married, the woman’s job was to obey, cater to, and heed the word of her husband. Let's hope nobody's aiming for that in marriage these days, religious or not.

5. The woman didn’t have any rights.

In a “traditional marriage”, not only did a woman not have a say in family decisions, she didn’t have any rights either. After centuries of prejudice, finally in 1971, Ruth Bader Ginsberg fought for a woman’s rights within a marriage; this led to the abolishment of the existing law that during a dispute, males must be preferred to females. Furthermore, it was only in 1979 when head and master laws were abolished in most states, which stated that a husband could do whatever he wanted with his house, his family, and his wife and her possessions.

6. People didn’t have sex (and babies) with only their spouses.

In Biblical times, not only was polygamy not illegal, it was considered a man’s right to have multiple wives and mistresses. For example, Abraham had two wives and a concubine, Khaleb had five, Moses a mere two, but King Solomon had over 1,000 (though 300 were considered to be concubines)! Monogamy is actually a relatively new, Western invention.

7. It was hardly a bed of roses.

The loving visions of a man serving and caring for his wife just weren’t reality centuries ago. Women were seen as property and meant for specific purposes. hroughout time though, some mercy was shown to wives, as shown by Bernard of Siena in the 15th century, who instructed men to be kind and have as much compassion for their wives as they would a chicken or a pig. Talk about a low bar. Since a wife was considered her husband’s possession, he could do what he saw fit with her. This often involved “keeping her in line” through physical means. In his Corpus Jurius, Emperor Justinian suggested that it may not be right to beat your wife, but if you happened to see a reason to do it, you would just have to pay her afterwards. No biggie, right? Thankfully, by the late 1800s, this practice became more outdated; South Carolina was the first state to disallow the beating of wives. In 1920, it was outlawed nationwide. Now if only those crimes would be properly prosecuted and women were rightfully protected from their abusers.

8. It wasn’t always an agreement between two people in love.

It was only in the 13th century that Pope Alexander IV changed the laws and made marriage a sacrament between two people by taking it out of the hands of parents and putting it into the hands of the two participating (and—mostly—willing) parties. Before this, families viewed marriage as a bargaining tool to get what they needed, disregarding the feelings or desires of the individuals who were going to be married. In 500 A.D., Emperor Justinian passed a law allowing fathers to give away their daughters as young as 7 years old, thereby ensuring the family that their needs would be met early on. Arranged marriages weren’t the only third-party agreements that were made, sadly. Many women women found themselves in unique instances in which it would be required for them to be married. If a woman was raped, she would often have to marry her rapist; if her sister’s husband was left a widow, she would have to marry her late sister’s husband. The illusion of choice is hardly new for women.

9. Women didn’t necessarily choose to be intimate with their husbands.

In a traditional marriage, it could rightly be assumed that a wife would have the choice to be intimate with her husband. Not so! In 1736, Jurist Sir Mathew Hale declared that a wife couldn’t be raped, because in marriage, a woman gave up all rights to her body. Her husband could do whatever he wanted with it. Shockingly, as recent as 1993, the last states finally passed laws disallowing a man to force himself on his wife. Of course, it still happens all the time, and it's quite hard to prosecute.

10. You weren’t allowed to hold hands and show you loved each other.

In your mom’s view of traditional marriage, hugging and holding hands would be acceptable public displays of affection. However, in true traditional times, these were considered vile and severely frowned upon. In fact, Plutar called it disgraceful when a Roman senator was caught kissing his wife in public—it was such a scandal that the senator was forced to back down from his position.

11. People didn’t stay together forever.

Although the church tried really hard to keep people together by making it truly hard to divorce, people have been getting out of their unhappy arrangements for hundreds of years. In early Mesopotamia, Hammurabi's code gave husbands alternate options by stating instances in which they could get a refund on their spouse if they were unhappy. Both the Greeks and the Romans allowed divorce as well. Thanks to Henry VIII breaking from the Catholic church and founding his own church, just to marry Anne Boleyn, the people of Britain were forced to be okay with it. That rule often only applied to him and his (six!) marriages, though—convenient, huh?

Morning Olympian December 1908
By the 1800s, divorce was so common in the U.S. that the government opened an investigation into the matter and by the early 1900s, society was sure that marriage would soon be obsolete. Though the divorce rate increased throughout the 20th century, it's started to decline, with 2016 having the lowest American divorces on record since 1980.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

10 Things You May Not Know About Andrew Jackson

tennessean.com/story Historical reputations rise and fall; Jackson isn’t unique in this regard. But his case is peculiar in the extent of the fall and for what it says about historical memory. Oddly, Jackson’s reputation was the victim of his success. His sins were remembered because his achievements were so profound.
 

President Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson called himself a Jeffersonian Democrat, while Thomas Jefferson called Jackson a dangerous man. Find out more about this "hero of the common man."

The first Irish-American president? The answer may surprise you. While John F. Kennedy was the first Irish-Catholic president, Andrew Jackson was the first chief executive with roots in the Emerald Isle. Check out that and nine other surprising facts about “Old Hickory.”




Jackson’s parents emigrated from Ireland.

Both of Jackson’s parents, Andrew and Elizabeth, were born in Ireland’s Country Antrim (in present-day Northern Ireland), and in 1765 they set sail with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, from the port town of Carrickfergus for America. The Jacksons settled with fellow Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the Waxhaws region that straddled North and South Carolina.

Both North Carolina and South Carolina claim to be his birthplace.

The seventh president was born on March 15, 1767, but exactly where is disputed. The Waxhaws wilderness was so remote that the precise border between North and South Carolina had yet to be surveyed. In an 1824 letter, Jackson wrote that he had been told that he had been born in his uncle’s South Carolina home, but dueling historic markers in both states still claim to be the true locations of Jackson’s birthplace.


Jackson killed a man in a duel.

The fiery Jackson had a propensity to respond to aspersions cast on his honor with pistols. Historians estimate that “Old Hickory” may have participated in anywhere between 5 and 100 duels. When a man named Charles Dickinson called Jackson “a worthless scoundrel, a paltroon and a coward” in a local newspaper in 1806, the future president challenged his accuser to a duel. At the command, Dickinson fired and hit Jackson in the chest. The bullet missed Jackson’s heart by barely more than an inch. In spite of the serious wound, Jackson stood his ground, raised his pistol and fired a shot that struck his foe dead. Jackson would carry around the bullet in his chest as well as another from a subsequent duel for the rest of his life.

He won the popular vote for president three times.

Jackson captured nearly 56% of the popular vote in winning the presidency in 1828, and he nearly matched that figure four years later in his reelection. “Old Hickory” also won the most popular votes, although not a majority, in his first presidential run in 1824. Since no candidate won a majority of electoral votes, the 1824 election was thrown into the House of Representatives, which selected John Quincy Adams in what Jackson’s supporters claimed was a “corrupt bargain” with Speaker of the House Henry Clay, who was named secretary of state by Adams. In his annual messages to Congress, Jackson repeatedly lobbied for the abolition of the Electoral College.

He was the target of the first attempted presidential assassination.
As Jackson was leaving the U.S. Capitol on January 30, 1835, following a memorial service for a congressman, a deranged house painter named Richard Lawrence fired a pistol at the president from just feet away. When Lawrence’s gun misfired, he pulled out a second weapon and squeezed the trigger. That pistol also misfired. An enraged Jackson charged Lawrence with his cane as the shooter was subdued. A subsequent investigation found the pistols to be in perfect working order. The odds of both guns misfiring were found to be 125,000 to 1.

Unbeknownst to Jackson, he married his wife before she had been legally divorced from her first husband.

After moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1780s, Jackson fell in love with the unhappily married Rachel Donelson Robards. After she separated from her husband and believing that she was granted a legal divorce, Robards wed Jackson. In fact, however, the divorce had not yet been finalized, and her first husband accused her of adultery. Jackson legally remarried Robards in 1794, but the episode resurfaced in the nasty 1828 presidential campaign when Jackson’s political opponents spread the gossip about his wife’s alleged adultery. After Rachel Jackson died just weeks after her husband’s election, the grieving president-elect believed the anguish caused by the slander hastened her demise.

He was the only president to have been a former prisoner of war.

During the Revolutionary War, the 13-year-old Jackson joined the Continental Army as a courier. In April 1781, he was taken prisoner along with his brother Robert. When a British officer ordered Jackson to polish his boots, the future president refused. The infuriated Redcoat drew his sword and slashed Jackson’s left hand to the bone and gashed his head, which left a permanent scar. The British released the brothers after two weeks of ill treatment in captivity, and within days Robert died from an illness contracted during his confinement.

He adopted two Native American boys.

Although he led campaigns against the Creeks and Seminoles during his military career and signed the Indian Removal Act as president, Jackson also adopted a pair of Native American infants during the Creek War in 1813 and 1814. Orphaned himself at age 14, Jackson sent back to Rachel an infant orphan named Theodore, who died early in 1814, and a child named Lyncoya, who was found in his dead mother’s arms on a battlefield. “He is a savage that fortune has thrown in my hands,” Jackson wrote to his wife about the boy. Lyncoya died of tuberculosis in 1828, months before Jackson’s election.

He was a notorious gambler.

Jackson had a taste for wagering—on dice, on cards and even on cockfights. As a teenager, he gambled away all of his grandfather’s inheritance on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Jackson’s passion in life was racing and wagering on horses.

Jackson’s portrait appears on the $20 bill although he detested paper money.

Chastened by a financial hit he once took from devalued paper notes, Jackson was opposed to the issuance of paper money by state and national banks. He only trusted gold and silver as currency and shut down the Second Bank of the United States in part because of its ability to manipulate paper money. It’s ironic that Jackson not only appears on the $20 bill, but his portrait in the past has also appeared on $5, $10, $50 and $10,000 denominations in addition to the Confederate $1,000 bill.

REFERENCE: history.com/news

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Brief History of Feminism

A Brief History: The Three Waves of Feminism

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 BY CAROLINE DOREY-STEIN

While the roots of feminism are buried in ancient Greece, most recognize the movement by the three waves of feminism. The third being the movement in which we are currently residing.

The first wave (1830’s – early 1900’s): Women’s fight for equal contract and property rights

Often taken for granted, women in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, realized that they must first gain political power (including the right to vote) to bring about change was how to fuel the fire. Their political agenda expanded to issues concerning sexual, reproductive and economic matters. The seed was planted that women have the potential to contribute just as much if not more than men.

The second wave (1960’s-1980’s): Broadening the debate

Coming off the heels of World War II, the second wave of feminism focused on the workplace, sexuality, family and reproductive rights. During a time when the United States was already trying to restructure itself, it was perceived that women had met their equality goals with the exception of the failure of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (which has still yet to be passed).

Misconceptions…

This time is often dismissed as offensive, outdated and obsessed with middle class white women’s problems. Conversely, many women during the second wave were initially part of the Black Civil Rights Movement, Anti Vietnam Movement, Chicano Rights Movement, Asian-American Civil Rights Movement, Gay and Lesbian Movement and many other groups fighting for equality. Many of the women supporters of the aforementioned groups felt their voices were not being heard and felt that in order to gain respect in co-ed organizations they first needed to address gender equality concerns.

Women cared so much about these civil issues that they wanted to strengthen their voices by first fighting for gender equality to ensure they would be heard.

The third wave (1990’s – present): The “micropolitics” of gender equality

Today and unlike the former movements, the term ‘feminist’ is received less critically by the female population due to the varying feminist outlooks. There are the ego-cultural feminists, the radicals, the liberal/reforms, the electoral, academic, ecofeminists… the list goes on.

The main issues we face today were prefaced by the work done by the previous waves of women. We are still working to vanquish the disparities in male and female pay and the reproductive rights of women. We are working to end violence against women in our nation as well as others.

We are still fighting for acceptance and a true understanding of the term ‘feminism,’ it should be noted that we have made tremendous progress since the first wave. It is a term that has been unfairly associated first, with ladies in hoop skirts and ringlet curls, then followed by butch, man-hating women. Due to the range of feminist issues today, it is much harder to put a label on what a feminist looks like.

Quite frankly, it all comes down to the dictionary’s very simple yet profound definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” If that’s what a feminist is – who wouldn’t want to be called that?

Feminism: Why Not ‘Egalitarianism’ or ‘Humanism’?

Caroline Dorey-Stein
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 BY CAROLINE DOREY-STEIN

During my studies of women’s leadership and equality, I have become increasingly frustrated with the hesitance some co-workers, friends and family respond with when I discuss feminism. The most common rebuttal is “why is it called feminism if it’s the equality of both men and women?” or, my personal favorite, “why not ‘Egalitarianism’ or ‘Humanism’ instead?”

I’ve even been told “Caroline, I don’t think you’re a feminist.”

I wanted to address this question because if I hear it frequently, chances are so do others and we should all be equipped to answer.

Before I begin my explanation of why it is ‘feminism’ and not another word signifying equality, I want to stress something. I do not just go up to people and blab about how great feminism is! I am not preachy with a few exceptions in my writings and sometimes when I talk with fellow feminists (that’s preaching to the choir, however). Typically feminist arguments surface when someone just simply asks me about my work. When I explain I’m studying women’s leadership and gender equality and it makes them somehow uncomfortable, this is when the retorts to the term arise.

The movement was given the name ‘feminism’ because it focuses on the gender inequality issues that impact women.  Just like any other civil rights category, feminism is a term used to show that one supports women’s equality and wants to address the serious amount of gender discrepancies they face daily. It does not take away from other civil rights matters.

Feminism is not called Humanism or Egalitarianism because Feminism, Humanism and Egalitarianism are three distinct theories.

Humanism is a branch of philosophy and ethics that advocates for equality, tolerance and secularism. It recognizes that human beings do not “require” religion in order to develop moral systems or behave morally. More simply, Humanism is the theory that humans are allowed to use logic to decide what is ethical instead of using a higher power to define for them.

Egalitarianism is a form of political philosophy that advocates all human beings are fundamentally equal and therefore equally entitled to resources. Yet, it has some distinct limits in applied practice. Egalitarianism has been an inactive socio-political movement for quite a while now.

Equality was originally conceptualized as a means to give everyone the same things, and although concepts and theories of equality are meant to be fair, rarely if ever are they in practice in reality.

This is not to infer that these two practices did not help shape Feminism. Humanism and Egalitarianism are important intellectual movements whose philosophies inform Feminism as well as global human rights legislation. But Feminism is the only movement actively advocating for gender equality.

The movement operates on the tenant that gender is not an acceptable basis for discrimination, oppression and/or eradication. It’s called Feminism because the gender being denied personhood and subjected to oppression is female. Feminism was given its name because it began as a socio-political movement to achieve gender equality for females and through its own rhetoric has become a movement to achieve equality for all persons regardless of gender.

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Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard. In addition to studying cultures, I take pleasure in studying history. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

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