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Women`s Legal Rights in Victorian England

The law considered men as persons, and the legal recognition of women`s rights as autonomous persons would be a slow process and would not be fully completed until the 20th century (in Canada, women gained legal recognition through the Persons Case, Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) in 1929). Women lost rights to property they had brought into marriage, even after divorce; a husband has complete legal control over his wife`s income; Women were not allowed to open bank accounts; and married women cannot enter into contracts without their husband`s legal consent. These ownership restrictions made it difficult or impossible for a woman to leave a failed marriage or exercise control over her finances if her husband was unable or unwilling to do so on her behalf. American women also suffered the practical and psychological consequences of the veil, as much of their legal system was based on English common law. Upper-class Canadian women imitated British culture and imported as much as possible across the Atlantic. Books, magazines, popular music and theatrical productions were imported to meet women`s demand. Florence Pomeroy, Lady Haberton, was president of the Rational Dress movement in Britain. At a National Health Society exhibition in 1882, Viscountess Haliburton presented her invention of a “split skirt,” a long skirt that cleared the floor, with halves separated at the bottom of material attached to the bottom of the skirt. She hoped that her invention would become popular by supporting women`s freedom of movement, but the British public was not impressed by the invention, perhaps because of the style`s negative “non-feminine” association with the American Bloomers movement. [52] Amelia Jenks Bloomer had encouraged feminists to wear visible bloomers to assert their right to comfortable and practical clothing, but this was nothing more than a passing fad among radical feminists. However, the women`s garment reform movement will continue and be successful in the long run; In the 1920s, Coco Chanel was enormously successful in selling a progressive, much less restrictive silhouette that abandoned the corset and enhanced the lines of the hem.

The new silhouette symbolized modernism for fashionable young women and became the norm of the 20th century. Other Parisian designers continued to introduce women`s trousers and the trend gradually took over over the next century. After years of complaints and protests, the Married Women`s Property Act was passed in 1882, allowing women to own their own property even after marrying their husbands. With a separate legal identity, they could sign documents and leases, run their own businesses, and even go into debt. After that year, if an evil husband wanted to steal his wife`s money, he had to persuade her to sign it. He couldn`t bear it the moment she said, “I want to.” Despite the fact that Victorians considered the mention of women`s underwear in mixed enterprises unacceptable, male entertainment turned the theme of feminine flowers into excellent comic material, including men`s magazines and music hall sketches. [24] “By marriage,” according to Sir William Blackstone`s Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford, 1765-69), “husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the mere existence or lawful existence of the wife is suspended during her marriage, or at least incorporated or consolidated in that of her husband, under her wing, Her protection and cover, She does everything. In the 19th century, more modern professions were introduced into women`s lives. Opportunities for leisure activities increased dramatically as real wages continued to rise and hours worked continued to decline. In urban areas, the nine-hour workday has increasingly become the norm; The Factory Act of 1874 limited the workweek to 56.5 hours and encouraged movement towards an eight-hour workday. With the help of the Bank Holiday Act of 1871, which created a series of fixed public holidays, a system of routine annual leave came into play, from white-collar workers to the working class. [44] [45] About 200 resorts sprang up thanks to cheap hotels and cheap train fares, widespread holidays, and the extinction of numerous religious prohibitions against secular activities on Sundays.

Middle-class Victorians used rail services to tour the coast. Large numbers of travellers to quiet fishing villages such as Worthing, Morecambe and Scarborough made them important tourist centres, and Thomas Cook-led entrepreneurs saw tourism and overseas travel as viable business models. [46] Pre-1882 property laws had other important consequences related to the fiction of the legal identity of husband and wife; A married woman could not sue or be sued – for example, if she felt defamed, her husband could sue and claim damages because he was the only aggrieved party, but she could not. As a result, he became liable for her debts and contracts, as well as any violations of the law she had committed before or during her marriage, as it was assumed that she was acting only under her husband`s direction (it was this provision that caused Mr. Bumble of Dickens to declare that the law is like a donkey).

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