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Forced Romance?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mari More, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    Hi guys! I just want to ask for your opinions. I won't write long introductions since this post will be long.
    I see a lot of these types these days from the stories that I follow so here's my concern. I don't think I can call it as forced romance or just plain terrible writing. This scenarios mostly happen in transmigration/reincarnation genres and the like such as Villainess stories (since this is the genre I'm currently in right now so I don't know about other genres but this is rampant in those revenge themed stories)

    1. Seeking marriage in exchange of "freedom" from other people, e.g. abusive family/fiancé.

    Girls who are transmigrated from Earth to another world (book or game that they read/played) would know about the character's background and future through the book/game so they (especially those with tragic ending) would try to change their fate by asking a more powerful man (mostly duke) and asks them to be their fiancé/husband. Then the man would think that the woman is "interesting" or "unique" or "different" from other girls because she's "straightforward" or something. Then they would form a contract (marriage contract) stating that the two should not fall for each other (because mostly they are in a business-like relationship). Some wouldn't even have a wedding ceremony, they straight out become husband and wife. I don't see the logic in marrying someone or considering the idea of marrying someone just because they are different from the others without even knowing that person or without any prior connection to that person before that person approached them to ask for marriage. I know that in some history, women don't really have a choice who they marry and if they want to escape from their abusive family, they need to marry (like women are under their father's roof then her husband's) because women were only seen as someone who gives birth to men's heirs and they have little to no freedom or opportunities so most can't runaway (it's obviously dangerous) or work (especially nobles, which I am pertaining to). Nobles also marry for convenience but which man, in their right mind, would accept a woman's "please marry me... i know your secret or i know you want a wife who won't interfere with your life" monologue just because he finds it interesting?
    2. Men being possessive and shows sociopathic behaviors but his woman sees it as cute or funny.
    Some works I've read have female leads knowing the behavior of the male lead even before being together with them (because they've read it in a book or played the game before transmigrating or reincarnating). In every story that I've read, there's this possessive male counterpart candidate which makes the female lead (and some readers)'s flutter. They're sometimes (if not always) say "aaaww... he's jealous... how cute..." Dude, he'll trap you in your relationship sooner or later! When the female lead talks to a guy (family member or not) they would get jealous and exudes this black aura where the people she's talking to gets intimated. Also, he always gets jealous even for small details like when the female lead smiles to the person she's talking to, bruh that's etiquette, and what do you want? for her to be stone cold? emotionless? That's kinda selfish because it will only ruin the female lead's reputation if she did that. Also he always want the female lead to be beside her, always tailing her, and sometimes assigning someone to "guard" her then report to him everything what she does. That's creepy, not romantic! He wants her for himself? Yeah, it's okay since the two of them are in a relationship but not to the point where you control everything she does and everyone she talks to. And to the female lead, gurl you need to run! Another thing is the author (and the readers, sometimes) romanticize sociopathic behaviors like thinking of killing a person (mostly men) that the female lead encounters. And when the male lead and the second male lead face off, there's always a "I'll kill you if you approach her or I'll kill you if you talk to her" vibe (and sometimes, it is included in the thoughts of the men, sometimes it was even said out loud). There's also other sociopathic behaviors but I don't know if I am allowed to state it here or it will be removed and I might get blocked.
    3. Men using bystanders/by passers and the crowd to force women to do/abide by what they want.

    Men usually use the "power" of the crowd to pressure the woman. There's an instant where the woman is walking home and stopped for the meantime then the man's carriage stopped in front of her. He talks to the woman and the woman doesn't want to talk to him. The man clearly knows the the woman is mad/irritated at him (we'll they don't know each other that much, there was only one instance that their paths crossed). He still reached his hand out and waited for her while the carriage's door is opened. The woman says no. But then he ignored it. The crowd started to chime in and tell the woman to get on his carriage. And he grabs that chance to pressure the woman, ending for the woman to ride on his carriage. Yes, the woman could have refused, but this is how the story was written. Just because he is good looking, everyone urged the woman to ride with him. That's how she got to ride in his carriage. And that's the story of how the ML and FL's love story bloomed. If I was the woman, I wouldn't fall for the guy! He's a treacherous! He forced the woman who barely knows him into his carriage then people think it's romantic? There's also another scene from another work where the man who has a business relationship with a lady approached her with the excuse of "greeting her business partner" when they didn't have any prior meeting except for the business transaction which is strictly confidential (it was the man who said it, he told the lady that his guild takes pride in not revealing any transactions between the guild and the employer). This action of his made the lady (who is in an abusive family) become the center of the attention of the nobles so it greatly dangered her (even though it wasn't shown in the current chapters since it was only updated few days ago and was chapters new). He knew his impact in the nobility but he still did what he did even though he knew the lady's predicament. She even told him that he wasn't supposed to know her because there's no known prior meeting between them but he only answered that he was only greeting someone he knows. And then they danced, in the center of the dance floor. Then he turns her around and embraced her/latched his hand on her waist and she was only shocked for a minute then blushed then it's okay already? That's not okay! That's actually overstepping boundaries! That's not romantic at all! That's forceful!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
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  2. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    4. Male leads lying to female leads at the start but female leads go "nah, it's in the past!"
    Which I think is stupid because lies became the foundation of their relationship. Like in Aladdin, when I was a kid I was so for Aladdin but as I grew up I realized how sh*t Aladdin is and how stupid Princess Jasmine is. Imagine someone lying to you the moment you met them and when the two of you fell in love, you showed him your vulnerable sides then all of a sudden you found out that throughout your whole relationship, he's lying to you. I would ditch the guy! But Princess Jasmine still accepted Aladdin. Like, dude? You okay? White lies are okay, but your whole identity? I get that there wouldn't be Aladdin if Aladdin didn't pretend to be a prince so that he can catch the princess' attention but it still irks me. I read a works that makes light of this issue. I know that it's a transmigration/reincarnation story so the main character can't tell anyone about their predicament but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the whole "I'll lie about how I manipulated things so that I could catch your attention" ordeal
     
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  3. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    My worst one was Beauty and the Beast (which was sad because I loved it as a kid and still do). I think the main focus needs to be on what they did and the reasons for it. The three good fairies weren't exactly honest with Rose all her life but it was to save her life. Sometimes bad things have to be done for someone's best interests, I get that. But many of the Disney princess's were rather dumb and the heroism often didn't come from them, it came from those surrounding them who seemed to love them unconditionally, even though the princess had done nothing for them and often rode off into the sunset with her prince never re-paying them for what they did.

    How romance is portrayed is a huge pet peeve of mine. Especially the controlling, manipulative, obsessive boyfriends being shown as cute or "he loves her." Little girl's fall for that and swoon over it. And it's not just in literature it's on T.V as well. I was watching an american T.V show a few years ago (forgotten the name) but the relationships in that were just damn right unhealthy. The partner was just too forgiving of trespasses. There was only two healthy relationship in the entire show and I heard it ran for about 8 years.

    I watched a movie from the 40's where people today were bashing the main character because she chose an abusive man over two nicer ones. But 40 years ago he was considered abusive. He would of be considered a strong man. He treatment of her was largely due to his own damaged mind and how he perceived the world around him. So people have become more aware of damaging relationships, yet this stuff still slides through. The damage he did was unintentionally but it still caused her to attempt suicide.

    But what I hate more than romances are redemption story arcs! God they make me so pissed off. I'm not talking about the redemption of a thief who never harmed anyone and stole to survive. People who maybe did bad things but never harmed anyone but these Hitler like characters who have committed genocide, murder, rape, torture and so on. Why should they get another chance when their victims never will. There are lines for me and redeeming a hitler villain just crosses them.

    Feel better for that rant!
     
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  4. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    1: Lots of people do things because "sure why not?" Such a man might have no interest in the normal candidates because they're too boring, or too obsessed with status, maybe he wants to spite his parents, maybe he's gay but needs to keep up appearences, who knows. It's also possible that he sees this as an opportuniy to take advantage of her; if she's from a different world, maybe she has magical powers/interesting genes, maybe she has knowledge that no one else does and that would be beneficial for his business empire (and by marrying her she can't work for anyone else). Even in the modern world, people get married quickly to escape bad/abusive home lives. They may not have the skills or resources to go live on their own, or they may live in a part of the country (or even the world) that doesn't have much opportunity. Watch 90 Day Fiance and you'll see this a lot.

    2: I think this is a problem in romance-focused stories in general. Sometimes this is because it's r/menwritingwomen, sometimes it's because people don't realize that this behaviour is problematic. But there's no reason for you to put that in your own writing if you don't want to.

    3: It's really easy for you to say you wouldn't do those things, like how it's easy to say that you wouldn't stay in a house that very clearly has ghosts in it. But you are not that character, you are not in that situation, you do not have the same morals or experiences as that character. But as long as the character has been built up in a way that it is reasonable for them to do those things, then that matters. A person filming their ghost hunting show would stay in the haunted house, as well as someone who 100% does not believe in ghosts, or the friend that's too cowardly to go against what the group wants to do. Tons of people would be pressured by the crowd into doing something because of their cultural upbringing, history, personality etc. That's why proposing to people in public is a shitty thing to do, because it can force someone to say yes because everyone watching expects them to. But if your character recognizes that he set this up to force her to do something, then she has an opportunity to grow and make a change (or maybe she chooses not to, which in itself says a lot about her character, too).

    4: This happens a lot on Catfish, where people would lie about what they looked like (using someone else's pictures), their name, their job, where they lived...but the actual conversations and bonding they had were otherwise genuine. The thing that founded the relationship was false, but the bones nd muscles of it are genuine. Some people cannot accept that, and some can, and there's no right answer. What people hold important in a relationship is different for everyone. Some people need 100% trust and openess, others might not care as much or they can forgive them because of the reasons they had to lie (like if a woman pretended to be a man, because she's a lesbian and she was worried she wouldn't be accepted as a lesbian, or if someone is not conventionally attractive and thinks no one would give them a chance because of that).

    Nothing is making you put these things into your stories if you don't want them. Each genre has its own tropes and conventions, and sometimes they're not very good, so subverting them is good to do.
     
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  5. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    AND THERE'S ALSO A SYNOPSIS/DESCRIPTION/PROLOGUE/PROMOTION OF WORKS (MANGAS/MANHUAS/MANHWAS/WEBTOONS) THAT DEPICTS A "STRONG, BRAVE, WOMAN (MOSTLY A WARRIOR OR A KNIGHT) THAT IS BOTH FEARED AND RESPECTED IN NOT ONLY THEIR FIELDS BUT THE WHOLE COUNTRY. BUT ONCE THE PROBLEM ARISES, THERE'S ONLY TWO WAYS TO SOLVE THE CONFLICT.
    FIRST, POTENTIAL MALE LEAD SHOWS UP TO RESCUE THE OH SO STRONG WOMAN FROM HARM.
    SECOND, NON-POTENTIAL MALE LEAD SHOWS UP TO RESCUE THE OH SO STRONG WOMAN FROM HARM.

    THE PROBLEMS ARE NEVER SOLVED BY THE WOMAN, NO MATTER HOW STRONG SHE IS, SHE'LL ALWAYS BECOME A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS THAT NEEDS A MAN TO RESCUE HER EVERY TIME. I GET THAT SHE SOMETIMES CAN'T FIGHT HER FIGHTS ALONE BUT EVERY FCKING TIME? SERIOUSLY? THERE'S A WEBTOON THAT I'M VERY FOND OFF AND I'M STILL WAITING FOR ITS UPDATE EVERYTIME, IT'S ONE OF MY CURRENT FAVE DIGITAL WORKS BECAUSE THE HEROINE IS LITERALLY A HERO! SHE'S REGARDED AS ONE OF THE STRONGEST AND BRAVEST KNIGHTS DURING THE WAR BUT WHEN THE WAR ENDED, SHE SILENTLY "VANISHED" INTO THIN AIR. WHEN SHE WENT BACK TO HER HOMETOWN, ALL THE POTENTIAL MALE LEADS FOLLOW HER ONE BY ONE AND EVEN THOUGH SHE'S CLEARLY STRONGER AND MORE POWERFUL THAN THE OTHER POTENTIAL MALE LEADS, SHE STILL GETS RESCUED BY THEM. I WOULD GET IT IF THE PROBLEM IS WITH FINANCE OR "THINKING" BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T GET TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THOSE THINGS BECAUSE SHE IS TRAINED AS A KNIGHT BASICALLY HER WHOLE LIFE. BUT NO! THE PROBLEM IS "BRAWL"!! A PHYSICAL FIGHT!!! HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO BELEIVE SHE'S THE STRONGEST AND MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE EMPIRE IF SHE GETS TO BE SAVED BY OTHERS IN A BRAWL/PHYSICAL FIGHT!
    IF THE CHARACTER WHO IS THE "BRAVEST AND MOST POWERFUL KNIGHT" IN THE EMPIRE IS A MALE, HE WON'T DEFENITELY NEED THE FEMALE LEAD'S ASSISTANCE (OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER) TO SLAY HIS ENEMIES. THE FEMALE LEAD WOULD MOST LIKELY BLUSH AND MOVE BY HIS "HEROIC MANLY MOVES" AS HE SWISH SWISH HIS SWORDS. BUT WHY DOES A WOMAN NEED ASSISTANCE FROM ANOTHER IF FACED BY THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE EVEN THOUGH SHE'S CLEARLY MORE POWERFUL AND STRONGER THAN THE OTHER MALE KNIGHTS (SINCE SHE'S DUBBED AS BRAVEST AND MOST POWERFUL KNIGHT)? WHEN THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SCENARIOS ARE THE GENITALS THAT THESE TWO "BRAVEST AND MOST POWERFUL KNIGHTS" HAVE?
    GOSH! I SO HATE THIS TYPE OF PLOT I'M NOW RANTING!!
     
  6. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    There's also plots/dialogues like ...
    FL: You're bullying me!
    ML: *smirks* So what? You're my wife
    FL: *blushes* uwuu i'm his wife uwuuu
     
  7. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    There's also those shit male leads (and some potential male leads) who enters the female lead's room in the middle of the night to stare at her or to kiss her on her forehead. DUDE TRESSPASSING!! DUDE PRIVACY!! DUDE RESPECT THE WOMAN!!

    And the thing I hate most about in this scenarios are the female leads blushing and heart thumping because of what their creepy male leads did. Like uwwuuu
     
  8. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    And when it comes to female lead being annoying even though the male lead didn't do anything wrong? IT'S THE JUDGEMENT AND FALSELY ACCUSING THE MALE LEADS (OR ANY OTHER MEN) THAT THEIR PEEPING/HARRASSING THEM! This mostly happens in Chinese Wuxias. Here are some of the only cringe worthy scenes that I remember.

    Male lead sees pond/lake. Male lead scans area, sees no one, takes his shirt off, bathe.
    Suddenly female enters, takes off clothes, bathe.
    Male lead done with bath. Out of the water. Dresses himself.
    Female screams. Male lead shock, scans area, sees female.
    Female accuses male lead of peeping. Covers boobs with one hand while the lower body with the other hand. WHILE FCKING STANDING! DUDE SIT DOWN, SUBMERGE YOURSELF IN THE WATER! (I'M A WOMAN BUT DAMN THIS WOMAN ISN'T THINKING) Blushing, screams at the male lead. Rushes to shore, punches the male lead. Male lead defends himself. Woman doesn't listen. Threatens male lead with "i'll kill you if I see you" dialogues. Then that's how their love line stars! With the male being falsely accused. Yes, the female might not see the man and the man might not see the female but urgh!! As a third person who knew and saw (read) what really happened, it fcking irks me! I'm not victim blaming! I'm not saying that it's the woman's fault for being seen. But let's be honest, in this scene, it wasn't her who was the victim, it was the man who she falsely accused.

    Another scenario would be...
    Woman seduces man. Man didn't fall for it. She hates the man for not falling for her moves. She vows to make him "pay". Dude, what's that attitude? Can't accept that not every man falls for you? She seduces him everytime there's an opportunity. If she succeeds, she'll force the man to take responsibility (this is victim blaming! the man didn't want your advancements but when you succeeded you push the responsibility to him and say it's his fault you lost your virginity or your reputation is ruined by what you actually did!) If she did not succeed, the first thing she'll think is the man is gay or impotent. then she'll have a talk with the man and "free" him, turning her back then silently cries. As the man walks away, there'll be a monologue like "if I see you again, I won't let go of you anymore." DUDE STOP!

    For me, these scenes are literally the female version of the saying "men think with their penises"
     
  9. Mari More

    Mari More Scribe

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    I like how you point things out and I've read your whole comment. Thank you for this comment. As a writer, I need to have references and resources to make my story more "realistic" but as a reader, I can't bring myself to read these so-called "references and resources" because the very work irks me. But I have no choice but to read those because first, i've already started it. second, there's little to no references about my chosen "fantasy" except the works with these concepts in almost every chapter. like urgh!!
    Anyways, thank you!
     
  10. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Troubadour

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    Don't quite know how to express this (at least not well), but I'll try.

    My first comment would be that you should avoid applying modern western standards and ethics to stories set in other periods or in other societies, given that they may have very different ideas about what is acceptable behaviour. That doesn't mean you can't criticise such stories, but neither does it make such stories bad. A good author might choose to use such settings and happenings to explore the consequences of such behaviours, or what happens when two different cultures meet.

    My second comment is that all these things happen in real life, so why wouldn't they happen in stories? It doesn't make any of these things acceptable in our eyes, but at some point we as authors should at least try to reflect real life as a way of connecting with our readers. What matters more to me is what we as authors then do with the situation and its consequences.

    Your first example: I've seen this is real life (in Afghanistan) and in some cases it really was an improvement for the young women concerned. Which is, when you think about it, frightening. And when you see it happen you realise just how far we've come in the west.

    Your second example: I've seen this in real life too, and what is really scary is that the woman doesn't seem to see the man's behaviour for what it is. And there's no way you can tell her, because it just doesn't get through. (She thought it was romantic!)

    Your third example: Yes, I've seen that too. The question I found myself asking was what would happen to the woman if she said no... (She didn't, but the atmosphere in the crowd was such that she'd probably have been severely beaten.)

    Your fourth example: I've heard of (but not seen) examples of this, and my question would be what a reformed person with a dodgy past should say at the start of a relationship. Effectively, when do you tell your partner the full story? At the start, and risk losing them there and then? Or later, and be accused of lack of trust or, worse, lying? Its linked to the question of should society as a whole forgive and (perhaps) forget and if so, when should that be?

    As for women falsely accusing men, that's a very sensitive issue here in Sweden. I've had to try to sort cases like that out, and there are no winners. At worst, it can lead to suicide, as happened with the falsely accused Benny Fredriksson. It also seems to be very sensitive for some critics, who don't like authors who raise this, which to me smacks of double standards.
     
  11. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    This thread has gotten out of control...
     
  12. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Many people feel strongly about these issues, and there are any number of perspectives.

    For me, what always matters most is the story. I want to enjoy a story which is faithful to its own context and internal rules. If that means using unreconstructed or sexist cliches (as some might perceive it) then that's fine, as long as the author stays in charge of the controls.

    What I deeply dislike is authors dog-whistling to modern woke audiences by pushing anachronistic agendas that simply wouldn't have existed in particular times and places. Push a barrow by all means (I always do) but find the right vehicle and never let the message get in the way of the story.
     
  13. Alana S

    Alana S Acolyte

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    I disagree, we aren't writing histories, we're writing for a modern audience. So the stories need to reflect the preferences and tastes of your readers. Also, this is fantasy we're talking about - you can write the society any way you want it, so why would you choose to set up a society like this? There are so many ways you can build a world, why build one where you're having to explain things with "but in those times it was ok".
     
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  14. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Troubadour

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    I think we need to separate things here a little.

    If you're setting your story in a given historical period and/or country then I suggest that for the story to be credible the society depicted needs to reflect the mores and values of the time and place (unless of course, its an alternative history in which case you have more freedom). Which is not to say that those societies are quite a sexist as some make them out to be. I did some research in the UK, and one of the things I studied were newspapers from the late 1700s, that is, when Mary Wollstonecraft was writing her famous book. What was interesting was seeing just how many women were advertising their shops and services (and I don't mean sex) in provincial newspapers, and it made me wonder just how accurate the popular image of the period is when it comes to equality. And when I say equality in that context I mean practical day-to-day equality as opposed to what the law had to say on the subject - because from what I saw in the newspapers the two were very different. As authors I feel we should be doing research if we're writing in a real historical setting, and we should try to get the details right. The fact that many of those details aren't acceptable by modern standards is not an excuse to avoid them.

    As for fantasy settings, yes we do have more freedom. In those sorts of settings I agree that we can have other mores and ethics, which are closer to those we have here in the west. Which is why I write fantasy and not historical fiction...
     
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  15. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I've heard the argument that the current view on gender roles mostly comes from the industrial revolution. Pre industrial revolution, men and women were fairly equal, in the sense that most people had small businesses of some sort. Both men and women helped run the business and people took care of the kids together. You opened at some point in the morning, had lunch at home (where likely the business was situated) and so on.

    Only with the industrial revolution did we see "institutionalised jobs" appear, where a lot of people worked in a single place. Where you had to appear at a certain time to do your job (away from home) and couldn't go home until the day was done. In such a setting, one person goes to work, while the other stays at home to look after the kids. And since these early industrial jobs were often of the though manual labour type, it was mainly the men who went to work and the women stayed home.
     
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  16. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Apologies if I'm subverting the thread but this is a period that fascinates me. It's awfully complex - especially trying to plumb its depths from 2.5 centuries away.

    Anyone who could read, or afford to advertise their services in a newspaper, was very far from the median lot of women (or men) in that period. There was no welfare state, married women weren't allowed to own property, and wills bequeathing them property (if they were that lucky) typically had clauses requiring them to marry - to pass on family names. This is where the hyphenated names originated.

    Accordingly, any woman who wasn't propertied and married was ever at the risk of falling through the cracks. By which I mean prostitution. To our modern eyes that looks appalling (and it is) but to their eyes, while deeply humiliating, there were so many prostitutes in C18 England that there was a kind of moral safety in numbers - even if there was no other safety. As for rights - personal and political - they simply didn't exist in the way we understand them now. People didn't know they had rights (there were still slaves then), they just got by.

    So I reckon the popular image was pretty accurate, but there will always be exceptions to any rule.
     
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  17. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Troubadour

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    Well, no. This is the thing. These aren't wealthy well off families we're talking about here. They're normal people running what we would now call shops and small businesses. You didn't need to be able to read or write to place an advert, you just went to the newspaper, told them what you wanted to say, and paid the fee. What you needed to know was that advertising could help your business - and that sort of business nous isn't the same as being literate.

    The law said married women couldn't own property or businesses. Widows and spinsters could - and did. And they advertised. As for married women, I came across one example where the wife ran her side of the business through her husbands business, yet advertised her own business quite separately from his. And when I then saw what the husband's business was, I began to wonder just who it was who made the decisions in that couple. He may have been the owner on paper, but she seems to have had a lot to say about the way the business was run. And they weren't the only couple to be doing this.

    Whats more fascinating is that there are no complaints at all in the newspapers about women running their own businesses and advertising them. None at all. Its as though its accepted as normal by the men in society - even in the provinces. This is what I mean when I say there is a difference between what the law said and the way things were on the ground when it came to equality.
     
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  18. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    No doubt you're correct as far as your research goes, but I maintain you're talking about a small minority.

    A very small minority.
     
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