tisdag 16 februari 2016

En emanciperad antifeminist

Eliza Lynn Linton
10 februari 1822 - 14 juli 1898

Eliza var bara fem månader när hennes mamma dog. När hennes far kyrkoherden tillfrågades om hur han skulle klara av att fostra sin tolvhövdade barnaskara på egen hand, svarade han:
"I shall sit in my study and smoke my pipe, and commit them to Providence." 
Och, fortsätter Frederick Sessions sin artikel:
This he did, breaking the monotony of his secluded life by wielding the rod among his rude tribe of passionate lads and high-spirited girls, and spending the nights in prayer for them.
Eliza tycks ha varit en vildbasare, "the little dare-devil girl" omtalas hon som. Som vuxen talade hon om sin barndom som olycklig, med återkommande konflikter med sin konservativa far, som hon varken sympatiserade med politiskt eller religiöst.  Fadern tyckte att studier var helt onödiga så i tonåren studerade hon på egen hand, språk, filosofi, historia och både den modern och klassiska litteraturen. På vilket vis den uppfostringsmetoden påverkade resten av hennes liv, kan jag inte uttala mig om, men klart är att familjelivet inte passade henne, så tjugotre år gammal tog hon sitt pick och pack — samt pengar som skulle räcka i ett år  och flyttade till London. Där avsåg hon att försörja sig på sin penna. Efter en tid fick hon plats på "The Morning Chronical", där hon arbetade som allt i allo i två år — den första engelska kvinnan som fick en avlönad tjänst på en tidningsredaktion, tjugo guineas i månaden.
För den intresserade finns mycket att läsa om Eliza på nätet, så jag hoppar över vistelser i Frankrike, giftermål (och separation) och mycket hårt arbete, som gjorde henne välkänd, gav henne vänner inom det literära etablissemanget och sist, men inte minst, gav henne en inkomst som hon kunde leva på.
Vad som intresserar mig är hur denna kvinna, som i mitten på 1800-talet, tyckte att det var självklart att en kvinna skulle stå på egna ben och förfoga över sin egen inkomst, kunde bli en uttalad antifeminist.
Jag fortsätter att läsa artiklar om henne och framför allt, vad hon själv skrivit. De kanske mest kända av hennes antifeministiska böcker är :
I den första delen av "The Girl of the Period" avslutar hon förordet:
I think now, as I thought then, that the sphere of human action is determined by the fact of sex, and that there does exist both natural limitation and natural direction. This creed, which summarizes all that I have said in extenso, I repeat with emphasis, and maintain with the conviction of long years of experience.

Nu ska jag lägga band på mig och inte citera merparten av hennes böcker, men jag rekommenderar dem verkligen. Men innan jag slutar vill jag dela med mig av början på "The Girl of the Period"

Time was when the phrase, "a fair young English girl," meant the ideal of womanhood; to us, at least, of home birth and breeding. It meant a creature generous, capable, modest; something franker than a Frenchwoman, more to be trusted than an Italian, as brave as an American but more refined, as domestic as a German and more graceful. It meant a girl who could be trusted alone if need be, because of the innate purity and dignity of her nature, but who was neither bold in bearing nor masculine in mind; a girl who, when she married, would be her husband's friend and companion, but never his rival; one who would consider his interests as identical with her own, and not hold him as just so much fair game for spoil; who would make his house his true home and place of rest, not a mere passage-place for vanity and ostentation to pass through; a tender mother, an industrious housekeeper, a judicious mistress.
We prided ourselves as a nation on our women. We thought we had the pick of creation in this fair young English girl of ours, and envied no other men their own. We admired the languid grace and subtle fire of the South; the docility and childlike affectionateness of the East seemed to us sweet and simple and restful; the vivacious sparkle of the trim and sprightly Parisienne was a pleasant little excitement when we met with it in its own domain; but our allegiance never wandered from our brown-haired girls at home, and our hearts were less vagrant than our fancies. This was in the old time, and when English girls were content to be what God and nature had made them. Of late years we have changed the pattern, and have given to the world a race of women as utterly unlike the old insular ideal as if we had created another nation altogether. The Girl of the Period, and the fair young English girl of the past, have nothing in common save ancestry and their mother-tongue; and even of this last the modern version makes almost a new language, through the copious additions it has received from the current slang of the day.

The Girl of the Period is a creature who dyes her hair and paints her face as the first articles of her personal religion — a creature whose sole idea of life is fun; whose sole aim is unbounded luxury; and whose dress is the chief object of such thought and intellect as she possesses. Her main endeavour is to outvie her neighbours in the extravagance of fashion. No matter if, in the time of crinolines, she sacrifices decency; in the time of trains, cleanliness; in the time of tied-back skirts, modesty; no matter either, if she makes herself a nuisance and an inconvenience to every one she meets; — the Girl of the Period has done away with such moral muffishness as consideration for others or regard for counsel and rebuke. It was all very well in old-fashioned times, when fathers and mothers had some authority and were treated with respect, to be tutored and made to obey, but she is far too fast and flourishing to be stopped in mid-career by these slow old morals; and as she lives to please herself, she does not care if she displeases every one else.
Så fortsätter hon att tala om hur förfärliga dagens (1860-talets) engelska kvinnor är, osedliga med sitt färgade hår, målade ansikten och kläder och som visade delar av kroppen som inte var avsedda för andras blickar  bara de amerikanska kvinnorna är värre!

Jag fortsätter att läsa i hopp om att förstå denna motsägelsefulla kvinna som till stora delar levde ett liv som feministerna förespråkade, samtidigt som hon tog avstånd från det.
Så här skrev man om henne 1898 i The New York Times:
Her dislikes were many, not to persons, but toward modern society ways, thoughts, and manners. . . . . It is difficult to understand how a sweet-faced old lady with white locks, gold spectacles, and a placid manner wrote such sharp, incisive words.

4 kommentarer:

  1. Mycket intressant!
    Ha en bra dag!


    1. Karin, Ja visst är hon intressant - livet och nätet är fullt av intressanta personer - inte underligt att jag inte får något uträttat, när det finns så mycket att läsa om!
      lev väl!

  2. Svar
    1. Välkommen hit Lynne,
      Kul att du också tycker att hon är intressant!