During the 19th century, although women in Britain were expected to marry and have children, there was, in fact, a shortage of eligible men. Census figures for the period confirm this by revealing that there were far more women than men. There were three main reasons this:
- The mortality rate for boys was far higher than for girls;
- A large number of males served in the armed forces abroad;
- Men were more likely to emigrate than women. By 1861 there were 10,380,285 women living in England and Wales but only 9,825,246 men.
The laws in Britain were based on the idea that women would get married and that their husbands would take care of them. Hence, before the passing of the 1882 Married Property Act, when a woman got married her wealth was passed to her husband. And if a woman happened by chance to work after marriage, her earnings would also go her husband.
The idea was that upper and middle class women were supposed to stay dependent on a man...first as a daughter and later as a wife. Furthermore, once married, it was extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 gave men the right to divorce their wives on the grounds of adultery. On the other hand, married women found that they were not able to obtain a divorce should their husband be found unfaithful. And, once divorced, the children became the property of the father; the mother could actually be prevented from seeing her children. And this was much the same for women in the United States.
We've come a long way, haven't we. In today's the society, it is almost always the woman who gets the children, and sadly, sometimes the woman is not what is best for the children. Today, most of us have our own bank accounts, our own credit cards, as well as sharing in the payment of the bills. Equality is what it is pretty much about in the household...but....there is still much to be done. There are still women living as if they are back in the 19th century with husbands who control everything. Some women in abusive relationships are forced to flee abusive husbands...and leave their children behind. Sad but true. And sadly, there are women in this world who CHOOSE to live under the control of their man.
Education is the key. Not only book learning, but knowing how to take care of yourself....knowing the laws of the state in which you live....knowing your rights as a woman...knowing that you are not alone, that you do NOT have to stay in an abusive relationship. Help is out there, but you have to KNOW where to find it. Educate yourself, ladies. Educate.