Daily Archives: Friday 19 December 2008

Friday Feminist – Cicely Hamilton

Cross posted

Marriage being to them not only a trade, but a necessity, it must follow as the night the day that the acquirement of certain characteristics – the characteristics required by an average man in an average wife – has been rendered inevitable for women in general. There have, of course, always been certain exceptional men who have admired and desired certain exceptional and eccentric qualities in their wives; but in estimating a girl’s chances of pleasing – on which depended her chances of success or a comfortable livelihood – these exceptions, naturally, were taken into but small account, and no specialization in their tastes and desires was allowed for in her training. The aim and object of that training was to make her approximate to the standard of womanhood set up by the largest number of men; since the more widely she was admired the better were her chances of striking a satisfactory bargain. The taste and requirements of the average man of her class having been definitely ascertained, her training and education was carried on on the principle of cultivating those qualities which he was likely to admire, and repressing with an iron hand those qualities to which he was likely to take objection; in short, she was fitted for her trade by the discouragement of individuality and eccentricity and the persistent moulding of her whole nature into the form which the ordinary husband would desire it to take. Her education, unlike her brothers’, was not directed towards self-development and the bringing out of natural capabilities, but towards pleasing some one else – was not for her own benefit, but for that of another person.

Cicely Hamilton, Marriage as a trade, 1909

Miscellany

iron

This remarkable sight is the bottom of the ironing basket. Granny Strange Land found it while she was staying here. I had not previously realised that such a thing existed.

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The strangelings have come up with a new rhyme, which they chant at the tops of their voices as they run around the back yard, for the general edification of our neighbours.

Oyster Bay
Chardonnay
Our parents drink it
Every day.

Do you think this is a problem?

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pav

I made this beautiful pavlova, crisp shell, soft and marshmallowy on the inside, and not a hint of chewiness. I put a strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries on top, and people added their own cream. I used Annabel Langbein’s recipe, and her concept of using your spatula to make lots of soft peaks and whirls and swirls on the top, to hold the berries.

I feel that my standing as New Zealand woman is enhanced by being able to make a good pav.

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Miss Seven is a little forgetful at times, and she loses things (two school sweatshirts – since returned – and three drink bottles this year). So when she came home from her drama rehearsal with just one shoe, I was, well, annoyed.

A couple of days later, Granny Strange Land, the elder Miss Seven, and I were sitting in the audience, waiting for the show to start. The elder Miss Seven was a little bored, and for some reason she was scrabbling around under her seat.

Of the 150 or so seats in the auditorium, she had been seated exactly where Miss Ten’s missing shoe had been left, two days earlier. “Look, Mum,” she crowed with delight. “[Miss Ten's] shoe!”

That’s the moral then. When you lose your shoe(s), instead of having to make do for some unspecified length of time (important life lesson), they will miraculously turn up. Sigh…

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bell

When Mr Strange Land came back from his last trip away, he brought back small gifts for the strangelings, and a tiny replica of the Liberty Bell for me.

It has a lovely sound that can be heard through the house and garden, when you ring it at the backdoor, or even just at the kitchen window. So it has become our general summoning bell for the strangelings, for dinner and the issuing of parental edicts, such as “Tidy up your rooms.”

“Hmmmph!” said Miss Ten. “So much for liberty.”