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Today’s post concludes the series, which will be included on my Recipes/Health/History page.
Smokes for Soldiers
Lady Denman, so instrumental in furthering Britain’s Women’s Institutes and a suffragette, initiated one of the funds for Lord Kitchener’s programme called Smokes for Soldiers.
Some cigarette cards, which accompanied the packs, showed soldiers in rare moments of quiet contemplation. Those pictured here are from Tony Allen’s fascinating page, Cigarettes & Tobacco and WWI Soldiers.
Carrera’s Black Cat cigarettes had a series of women on their cards. These depicted ladies working in war effort occupations, among them mechanics, coal workers and game keepers. The backs of the cards had brief descriptions of their duties. These made the troops aware that women were doing their part in what was probably seen as being an unheard of and fascinating way. Adie said that the cards proved to be very popular.
As yesterday’s post on the Women’s Institutes showed, ensuring Britons had enough food was paramount.
The government had statistics showing that farmers’ wives were the most likely ‘to go insane’. Indeed, the WI was able to help them to get out and about, if only to their meetings.
A further effort was made with the government’s introduction of the Women’s Land Army. Twenty-three thousand young volunteers were sent around the country to till the land, pick fruit, milk cows and take on other responsibilities. Farmers objected that the women were wearing trousers. The government assured them that the workers were feminine and ladylike.
The Women’s Land Army also participated in the same activities during the Second World War, spearheaded by the aforementioned Lady Denman who was their honorary head, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Shipbuilding and dock work
Another controversial workplace for women were docks and shipyards.
Not surprisingly, male workers were concerned that low wages for inexperienced women would push their own pay packets downward. Unions ensured that any work arrangements were to be for the duration of the war only.
Women worked at several shipyards, including A&P in Tyne and Wear. The work that men previously did was divided up among women which made the pay and employment conditions more acceptable to long-standing male employees.
The Voluntary Aid Detachment was comprised of upper and upper middle class women volunteers who cared for soldiers returning from the Front. Downton Abbey explored this.
The late Lady Jane Grey was interviewed in 1986 and said that as a young Voluntary Aid Detachment member she watched a doctor extract a bullet from a wounded soldier.
Nurses were concerned that the volunteers might not be able to care for the soldiers properly and that their recovery might be compromised as a result. However, with the number of injured men returning, they grudgingly agreed that the volunteers were needed.
Where doctors were concerned, only a few hundred women were physicians at the beginning of the war. They treated only women and children.
Some medical school professors refused to have women in their classes. Kate Adie said that, where women were taught, no professor showed them diagrams of the male anatomy.
In Edinburgh, the pioneering doctor Elsie Inglis established the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee, a suffragette-sponsored medical team that provided all-women units to treat the Allied wounded. They had sent teams to France, Serbia and Russia. When Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps, saying the Committee could offer their services, a representative from the War Office responded:
My good lady, go home and sit still.
Instead, the French government took Inglis up on her offer. She and her physicians went to Serbia under their aegis.
Two other suffragette physicians, Dr Flora Murray (left) and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson (right) had better luck in establishing the Endell Street Military Hospital in Covent Garden, London. Perhaps this is because Murray was Emmeline Pankhurst’s personal physician. Alternatively, it might be because the hospital was in London and not overseas. In any event, Endell Street opened in May 1915 and stayed open until August 1919.
The hospital, staffed entirely by women, treated 24,000 men and carried out 7,000 operations. A convoy of ambulances arrived every night with soldiers requiring triage and emergency treatment. One who was treated there said:
This hospital is a triumph for women.
The Great War showed everyone — from soldiers to the general public to the War Office — that women could indeed practise medicine every bit as well as men.
In 1917, both women were made CBEs — Commanders of the British Empire. Today, a home for the elderly, Dudley Court, has replaced the hospital in Endell Street. It, too, has a medical centre, but no doubt staffed by men and women.
By 1917, there was little women could not do — except vote.
In parliamentary debates, Winston Churchill, who was then a young MP, said that women’s interests were adequately represented by either their husbands or male family members.
However, with most men still fighting in Europe and elections looming, Prime Minister Lloyd George and MPs debated the subject again. On February 6, 1918, they approved the Representation of the People Act by an overwhelming majority: 385 – 55.
It was thought that had the measure not been approved, suffragette demonstrations and violence could continue and perhaps escalate. MPs feared that the Bolshevik revolution might drift to the UK.
The new act did not enfranchise every woman, although it did respond directly to what the suffragettes wanted. (Suffragists, on the other hand, wanted universal suffrage for all men and women.) This act granted the vote to all women over 30 who either owned property or who were married to a registered voter. Many women were still unable to vote, including former suffragettes and those who were working in the war effort.
In some ways, the act did more for men. Prior to that, many were also unable to vote, including the troops in the trenches. Afterward:
All males over 21 gained the vote in the constituency where they were resident. Males who had turned 19 during service in connection with the First World War could also vote even if they were under 21, although there was some confusion over whether they could do so after being discharged from service. The Representation of the People Act 1920 clarified this in the affirmative, albeit after the 1918 general election.
It should be noted that some men — e.g. those affiliated with universities and property owners who had two homes — had a plural vote. In the case of university affiliation, they could vote in both the consituency where they were studying and in their home one. A property owner could vote where he lived and also where he owned property. This was abolished in 1948 in another Representation of the People Act.
Universal women’s suffrage was granted in the 1928 Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, which gave all women over 21 the right to vote. The suffragists’ cause was finally won.
Post-war women’s work
After the war ended, women employed outside the home feared for the future.
Men returning home from the war expected and got their jobs back.
Six thousand munitionettes marched on Parliament for the right to continued employment. However, the government sent the message that women should now return home to be good wives, mothers and homemakers. The government said their efforts were greatly appreciated, but that time had now ended.
The level of women working outside the home soon returned to pre-war numbers. Mary Macarthur, the women’s union leader, was disgusted. She died of cancer in 1921.
In matters ecclesiastical, the controversial pacifist Maude Royden, who became assistant preacher at the nonconformist City Temple (United Reformed Church) in 1917, was the first woman to preach from a Church of England pulpit. That event took place in 1921 at St Botolph’s Church in London.
In 1929, she started the official campaign for women’s ordination. In 1931, she was the first woman to earn a Doctor of Divinity degree. By then, she had already completed preaching tours around the world.
Although the suffragettes and women working in the war effort were not all saints, they were highly capable at a crucial time in history.
What the Great War demonstrated was women’s worth in the working — perhaps, especially, a man’s — world.
It would be difficult to put women back in their box afterwards.
It is also worth remembering that it also became necessary for women to earn a living. No other generation of women in recent history lost more fiancés and husbands than that one. Thousands of widows and spinsters needed to work to support themselves and their children. They had to man up.
And finally …
You can see IBT‘s collection of Getty photos (mustn’t copy!) of women — mostly British, some French — working in factories and as policewomen during the Great War. It’s a fascinating mix of posters and photographs.
Yesterday’s post began a series on British women working outside the home during the Great War.
You might wish to read it, if you have not already done so, for general background on their status.
Munitionettes – ‘canary women’
By 1915, women all over Britain were involved in some way in the war effort.
Those who had worked ‘in service’ — as domestic help — often found work in munitions factories. They were sometimes referred to as munitionettes.
Britain had a shortage of artillery shells, which came to light in the Shell Crisis scandal. Prime Minister Herbert Asquith appointed David Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions. According to Kate Adie, Lloyd George saw a place for women in munitions factories. From behind the scenes he helped Emmeline Pankhurst to organise a demonstration of women asking to help in this regard. On the day, he appeared afterwards to speak to the women. Shortly thereafter, work on artillery shells increased rapidly, with the ladies’ help.
Working with explosives was dangerous. Death was always a possibility. The Rotherwas Munitions Factory in Hereford had a number of huts, each with thick concrete-reinforced walls. In case one hut exploded, the others would remain standing. The documentary showed us that, even today, slender tapers of TNT are still carefully bundled together and tied by hand.
Other hazards of munitions factory work included reactions to the powder: swollen faces, skin rashes and, worst of all, yellow skin. It was impossible not to breathe it in, to wash it off or to expel it. In fact, when these women walked into towns or villages to run errands, people were amazed to see their yellow skin and clothes. As such, they became known as ‘canary women’.
Adie interviewed Gladys Sangster, who was born in 1917. Her mother worked in a munitions factory. She had inhaled so much powder whilst working that Gladys was born yellow.
That said, the munitionettes felt as if they had been ‘let out of the cage’. They were outside of the home — theirs or someone else’s. They were earning their own salaries, which, by the end of the war, was three times that of what they had been earning as domestic servants. Furthermore, they were forming their own friendships with other women and enjoying their independence.
However, the spectre of death was as much over their heads as it was for the men fighting in Flanders.
The Germans had targeted British munitions factories. The end of a 12-hour shift did not mean the end of danger for these woman who were frequently evacuated, day and night.
Association and league football was eventually suspended during the Great War. Too many men were serving in Europe.
Factory women and those working elsewhere for the war effort started organising their own games locally, even though then, as now, football was considered to be harmful to female reproductive organs.
The government was keen to ensure women workers got plenty of food to keep them healthy. The Great War saw the creation of works canteens for this purpose. Women were delighted to eat a balanced meal at least once a day. For many, meat was a luxury, so they welcomed a regular portion of it with potatoes and vegetables.
The government was also eager to ensure the women got plenty of fresh air in their free time. Football was one way to keep the women active and refreshed. Cities and towns began organising female football teams. Sometimes, women played men. The men had to have their hands tied behind their backs so as not to have an unfair advantage. Male goalkeepers were allowed to have one hand free.
Bella Reay was a top goal scorer during the Great War. She scored well over 100 goals in one season. Adie spoke with her granddaughter who showed her Reay’s gold medal given to her after the Munition Girls Final.
Ladies football continued after the war until 1921, when the Football Association banned it, saying it was too dangerous.
Female police, toughness and night life
The Great War gave birth to the girls’ night out.
The general public were shocked to see groups of working women invading the previously male-dominated pubs in the evenings. It was immoral. Ladies didn’t do that sort of thing.
Furthermore, people commented on the toughness of the women. It’s not surprising, but I do wonder how it manifested itself later on through their children, especially daughters, and in their grandchildren.
Margaret Damer Dawson sought to resolve this moral panic. She was the step-daughter of Thomas de Grey, the 6th Baron Walsingham. She was very much involved with good causes concerning women, children and animals. During the early part of the war, she and Nina Boyle patrolled the streets of London helping Belgian women refugees who were in danger of becoming prostitutes. Boyle led a team of women volunteers. Dawson was her assistant. The group was known as Women Police Volunteers and operated by government permission. It gradually expanded its scope outside of London.
In 1915, Boyle left the Women Police Volunteers over a disagreement over an incident involving women workers in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Boyle did not wish to have curfews for adult women. Dawson did. This set the tone for the next few years, with Dawson’s new Women’s Police Service. The posts were unpaid and strictly volunteer.
Incidentally, policemen told their top brass that they had no desire to work alongside ‘copperettes’. Therefore, the male officers had their patrols and the women theirs.
The Women’s Police Service focussed on children in trouble and female factory workers. The women factory workers resented the women constables’ attempts to ‘keep them in line’.
However, at work, where there were male employees, conflict sometimes broke out between the sexes. Dawson’s constables were called into a few establishments for daily patrols and to quell any disputes between male and female employees. Adie says that a ‘class system’ of hierarchy was set up so that females deferred to their male superiors with no arguments.
Although this all sounds rather orderly and righteous, after the war ended, the government rejected requests from Dawson’s Women’s Police Service to join the newly-created teams of women constables, who were paid for their work. The government termed the volunteers ‘sour, middle-aged fanatics’.
Dawson, quite possibly, never recovered from the rejection. She died of a heart attack in 1920.
Next: More causes, more work — including medicine
With so many young men in the trenches, someone had to continue the work they were doing before conscription.
In 1914, the home front opened up. Women would never be the same again. The ensuing four years would demonstrate that women could be as active and as productive as men.
Last year — on August 13, 2014 — veteran BBC reporter Kate Adie made a one-hour documentary on this extraordinary period in history. It is called Kate Adie’s Women of World War One, based on her book Fighting on the Home Front, and was shown on BBC2. What follows is a summary of the programme, eye-opening in many respects.
At the beginning of the 20th century, women were few and far between in work outside the home. It was unimaginable that they would be doctors or lawyers. A woman had men to represent and serve her in all aspects of life.
Many men took Paul’s verses from 1 Corinthians 14 and applied them not only to public worship but also private life:
…33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Of course, most Britons — men and women — were scandalised by women who dared to speak out, protest and put their lives in danger: the suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.
It should be remembered that Pankhurst and her supporters wanted women votes only for a segment of the population. They did not want all women to vote, only those who were educated or who were property owners. Suffragists, on the other hand, wanted universal suffrage.
The home front opens
In August 1914, Pankhurst faced a dilemma. Would she and the suffragettes support the war effort — siding with the government they protested against — or pursue their campaign?
Pankhurst decided to suspend the campaign. She renamed their journal The Suffragette to Britannia with the slogan:
For king, for country, for freedom.
Meanwhile, the government needed thousands of men to enlist in the military. They created a campaign aimed at women, who, as moral arbiters, would encourage — shame, perhaps — their sons, brothers, sweethearts and husbands into uniform.
The popular music hall star Vesta Tilley decided to dress as a soldier as part of her act and sing a song encouraging sign-up. This was a shocking development, because women did not dress like men — ever. A tie? Trousers? Hair shoved under a cap and hidden? Unthinkable. It went against the biblical order of men’s and women’s roles. When Tilley premiered the new song at a Royal Command Performance, Queen Mary and many other women lowered their heads. They could not bear to look at her.
Yet, the press picked up on Tilley’s new act and, before long, everyone knew about it. Her audiences cheered. She continued dressing as a soldier and singing her war effort song.
By September 2014, 200,000 men had enlisted. Not all of the numbers were thanks to Tilley. Announcements in what we call the small ads in the back of newspapers also helped. Poster campaigns aimed at women as well as men were also influential.
Women from the aristocracy and landed gentry led the way in getting involved. The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry — FANY — was formed as was the Women’s Volunteer Reserve. Both groups had uniforms — jackets and skirts — but those in the Women’s Volunteer Reserve had to purchase their own. At a cost of £2 per uniform, it was a sum that only middle class women could afford.
Some of those women became ambulance drivers.
Women from the lower social classes volunteered to cook and clean.
The two Marys
Queen Mary (left) started a needlework guild to encourage British women to knit warm clothes and accessories for the troops. These items included dressing gowns, pyjamas and hot water bottle covers.
The few women who were working in the textile and weaving industry objected. They belonged to the National Union of Women Workers, which safeguarded their employment and salaries. Mary Macarthur (right) headed the union and campaigned for equality in the workplace. She publicly objected to Queen Mary’s needlework guild as a threat to the union members.
Queen Mary wasted no time in summoning Macarthur to the palace. They had a long conversation. Both Marys were said to have ‘got on famously’ by the end of the meeting. They were both women of strong character and determination. Queen Mary asked Macarthur for more information on the plight of poor women forced to work. It wasn’t long before Queen Mary began visiting charities and hospitals for the poor. The press dubbed her the Charitable Bulldozer.
Tomorrow: women at work
Whilst the Great War raged on in 1915, on the home front, Britain’s first Women’s Institute was founded in Anglesey, Wales, in an attempt to keep families better fed.
Inspired by Canada
Our Women’s Institutes (WI) took their inspiration and organisational structure from Canada, where Adelaide Hoodless had founded that nation’s WI in 1897 as a way for wives of Farmers Institute members to share domestic science skills and foster friendship. By 1905, Ontario alone had 130 WI branches.
A Canadian lady and enthusiastic WI member, Madge Watt, moved to Wales in 1913. Two years later, she met John Nugent Harris. Harris was Secretary of the AOS — Agricultural Organisations Society. The Development Commission, a government body, funded the AOS, the purpose of which was to create farmers’ co-operatives for wartime food production.
Watt told Harris about the WI in Canada. Harris, aware that the AOS needed more people, asked her to establish the WI in Britain. Watt’s first meeting took place in Anglesey in September 2015. However, despite her enthusiasm and persuasion beforehand, only a handful of women attended. Those who were reluctant to take part felt uncomfortable being around others of different social classes.
The Great War years
Before long, however, Watt’s organisational and persuasive skills attracted more women. At the time, it was unusual for women to leave the house other than to run errands. Housework, cooking and tending a garden or part of the farm took up most of the day. Those who attended Watt’s meetings enjoyed the friendships they were forming with other housewives. One woman told another and a movement was born: one that not only helped the individual, but also the nation at a time when food was essential.
By the end of 2015, Wales had several chapters of the WI — and Watt had already branched out into England, where the organisation was established in Dorset, Sussex and Kent. Watt had taken the WI from one coast to another — Wales to Kent — within three months!
In October 2016, the WI chapters were so numerous that the AOS set up a subcommittee to oversee them. The AOS appointed Lady Gertrude Denman as head of this subcommittee. In September 2017, the Treasury decided that funding for the the growing WI movement should be transferred from the AOS to the Women’s Branch of the Food Production Department of the Board of Agriculture (which also organised the Women’s Land Army). At that point, Lady Denman, not wishing for the WIs to come under government control, was able to negotiate an agreement with the Board of Agriculture whereby the Board would fund the establishment of new chapters which would then become self-financing via members’ dues.
On October 16, 1917, delegates from 137 WI chapters and Lady Denman set up a central committee of management and created a constitution as well as set of rules. She was elected to head the WI.
The WI stipulated from the beginning that it was not to be politically or religiously aligned. That meant — and still means — that every woman can join. The objectives are to:
a) Study home economics; b) Provide a centre for educational and social intercourse and for all local activities; c) Encourage home and local industries; d) Develop co-operative enterprises; e) Stimulate interest in the agriculture industry.
A Scottish WI was established in 1917, known as the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute. Catherine Blair had a harder time there than Madge Watt in Wales. Women in East Lothian (outside Edinburgh) only met up with other ladies once a year at the local fête.
Although home economics has always been central to the WI, other topics discussed at early meetings varied by region. In England and Wales, lessons and tips on resoling boots from old tyres were popular. In Scotland, women were more interested in learning how to butcher pig’s carcasses.
During the Great War, the WI helped to bring new methods of food conservation to British housewives. Incredible as it might seem, conserving fruit at home was virtually unknown in 1916. The WI was able to get new American sterilising equipment shipped across the Atlantic. All 199 chapters expressed an interest in receiving and giving lessons on this new preserving technique.
The WI promoted the notion of foraging, although that was not what it was called then. Women understood the value of fruits growing in the wild and how they could be used for food. Some of this produce was conserved in the new American style. Other fruits were made into jam.
If there is one thing Britons identify the WI with is jam making. The WI demonstrated how to increase the yield of jam:
… for those women who had access to a ‘copper’, the quantities that could be made were enormous. Mrs Dunstan, writing in the WI’s own magazine, Home and Country in July 1919, recalled ‘We could make nearly one hundred pounds of jam in it at a time, and as the fire would burn anything such as rubbish, peels etc. our fuel bill for making six and a half tons of jam was less than two pounds.’
War time also brought out the best of women’s craftwork skills and ability to ‘make do and mend’.
In the summer of 1917, the WI opened a crafts stall at the National Economy Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. The public saw how experienced and creative members were in making rugs, toys, baskets as well as fur and leather accessories.
Today, the WI is Britain’s largest voluntary women’s organisation with 212,000 members in 6,600 local groups. Men are also welcome to attend. Although the focus is very much on domestic science, a number of chapters are also career-oriented, as many members work outside the home.
On October 10, 2015, a centenary banquet at the Drapers’ Hall in London was held to honour the WI.
Chefs, some of them Michelin-starred, competed to prepare winning dishes for the four-course meal. The competition was shown from start to finish on the BBC’s Great British Menu, which started in August with weekly regional heats around the country.
We watched every episode. What surprised us is that so many of the chefs attempted to reproduce WI recipes. Time and time again, the chefs judging their efforts warned them about trying to do something the WI members are all expert at — jams, cakes and bread! Friday’s episodes, which determined a regional winner, were judged by three other notables in the food world — as well as a WI member.
This is an indicative comment from one of the WI judges when it came time to select the chefs cooking at the banquet:
… guest judge Mary Quinn turned up and said that the WI has no time for drizzles or smears.
If I had been competing, I would have taken more of a classic approach and prepare dishes outside of the WI’s purview, rather than cheap cuts of meat and Scotch eggs. It was a banquet, not Sunday lunch. Yet, on the day, every dish looked breathtaking! The WI members and supporters attending loved every bite.
Best wishes to the WI for their continuing work in promoting British produce, especially dairy, as well as their campaigns for wildlife, particularly bees.
The first essay — ‘Heidelberg 104: Authority and Submission (1)’ — is particularly pertinent to Christians who mistakenly advocate Mosaic Law, theonomy and male supremacy.
It is unfortunate that the Reformed churches are affected by these scourges. I suspect it is because a significant number of Americans attending such churches as new members came from highly conservative congregations with erroneous ‘Christian’ teachings.
What follows is a summary of his excellent explanation, supported by the Heidelberg Catechism and Scripture. Emphases mine below.
Civil punishments prescribed in Mosaic law:
expired with the death of Christ. This is how the civil punishments are interpreted in Reformed theology.
or the teaching that the Mosaic civil laws have a bi[n]ding validity in exhaustive detail is contrary to the Reformed faith.
And Christianity in general.
The notion of a Promised Land is also no more:
There is now no national people of God and there are no more national promises. There is no earthly promised land and therefore the nature of the promise has changed. Believers are the Israel of God but we have no land promise since Christ is the land, the rest, and the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile has been broken down (Eph 2:14).
And that thou mayest live long on the earth. Moses expressly mentions the land of Canaan, “that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exod. 20:12.) Beyond this the Jews could not conceive of any life more happy or desirable. But as the same divine blessing is extended to the whole world, Paul has properly left out the mention of a place, the peculiar distinction of which lasted only till the coming of Christ.
Reactionary Christians have an extreme interpretation of Ephesians 5 and 6 regarding authority in the home.
Clark unpacks what Paul meant:
This is not patriarchy nor the ontological (i.e., as a matter of being) subordination of females to males because Paul warns fathers not to be abusive and instructs them to be gracious and kind and patient with their children just as God has been gracious kind and gentle with us.
As Christians seek to re-assert creational and biblical patterns of living in our late-modern age, it is imperative that we do not over-react as some have done. I have heard and read discussions of “federal headship” of males over females in the new covenant. For example, some have inferred that, e.g., females may not or should not vote in a congregational election. Such an inference requires a series of assumptions that must be questioned. Most of the argument seems to rely on a degree of continuity with the Mosaic (old) covenant that is not exegetically or theologically defensible. Some of the arguments (e.g., that females are inherently inferior) that I have seen and read over the years are not worthy of Christians. These sorts of over-reactions to aspects of modern and and late-modern feminism do us no credit as we seek properly to insist that:
• There is a creational, natural order
• Creational order can be determined by looking carefully at creation
• There are two sexes (male and female)
• The two sexes are distinct and complementary
As for ‘federal headship’:
Paul did not invoke the “federal headship” principle nor did he invoke a male Patriarchy in order to justify his teaching. Christ is the only federal head of believers. A husband is just that, a caretaker. A father may be said to be the head of the house but only as a matter of administration not as a matter of being. As we saw above, for Paul, the father’s role in the house to be like Christ, to lead gently and self-sacrificially not abusively and most certainly not high-handedly.
Clark makes it clear that certain restrictions on women do not actually exist in Pauline teaching:
he nowhere implies that females may not vote in a congregational election.
As for women’s silence in church:
The problem was speaking up inappropriately. The problem was disorder in the worship service. The solution was order.
Creational order, not extremism
Clark concludes by noting that Paul and Peter acknowledged the order of creation, which we are still obliged to follow, but not to drastic extremes.
On the one hand:
Paul was not a sexist nor was he “hopelessly patriarchal” as one polemicist said in the 1990s. Nevertheless, we should not confuse Victorian prejudices with biblical teaching. Paul does not argue that men are inherently smarter or more rational than females. Peter recognized differences and similarities between men and women (1 Pet 3:7). We are both the heirs of the “grace of life.”
On the other:
Paul, like Peter, does teach a creational order. We are not free to disregard his instruction because it puts us at odds with the Zeitgeist (spirit of the age) or widely held assumptions.
Gentlemen favouring extremes would do well to take it easy on their wives and children.
Be Christlike in family relationships.
At the beginning of June 2015, the Belz sect of Hasidic Jews in London issued instructions that their women were not to drive cars.
In fact, Belz rabbis said that mothers would be prohibited from dropping their children off at the sect’s schools starting in August. The Jewish Chronicle reported:
According to the letter — which was signed by leaders from Belz educational institutions and endorsed by the group’s rabbis — there has been an increased incidence of “mothers of pupils who have started to drive” which has led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions”.
They said that the Belzer Rebbe in Israel, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, has advised them to introduce a policy of not allowing pupils to come to their schools if their mothers drive.
Whilst this is serious — more about which below — the head rabbi of the Belz sect, Belzer Rebbe (his title), gave these instructions to female adherents in 2014:
“You should shave your entire head and not leave even one single strand of hair,” Rokeach thundered.
“You should not eat at a home in which the woman does not shave her head because the food is not kosher,” Rokeach added.
Rokeach also prohibited women from applying makeup.
“The only makeup that is allowed is that of a natural color, and any eye makeup is prohibited,” the rabbi said during his speech.
The rabbi said that women should not use any perfume.
Rokeach did not forget to attack women’s shoes.
“You should not wear any shoes that make noise while walking, as noisy shoes was the reason God destroyed ancient Israel,” he said.
It is difficult to know whether that is a satire. However, an anonymous commenter wrote that the rabbi is in competition with others to make sure one of them is the most observant — ‘frum’ — as ‘kosher’ refers to food laws. Emphases mine:
This time you are exaggerating,
I have the letter in front of me. What he actually did was put all the rules in writing. Belzer women have been shaving their heads for years and years as do all women from Hungarian, Galitzianer and Yerushalmer Chassidus. Only Russian Chassidus does not do this. He said that this is perferable and no hair should be sticking out of their tichel. If they need to wear a shaitel they should also wear a hat or headband on top so that it is obvious that it is a shaitel … for the word loud regarding the shoes, he meant not noisy but loud colors that attract attention. What bothers the women is that all of a sudden clothing that was permissible for their mothers and grandmothers became forbidden, as for makeup this was always his rule, he just never was strict about it but all of this was taught in his girl’s schools for years
You need to be accurate and not go overboard even though you and most others find his “takonos” ridiculous. Don’t forget he is in competition with his brothers in laws the Vizhnitzer Rebbes, The satmer Aharonis and Skver as to who can be the frummest!
However, another controversy in the Hasidic community arose in London — once again in 2014. Stamford Hill’s Shomrim group help to patrol the area. Posters suddenly appeared telling women on what side of the street they should walk (photo courtesy of the London Evening Standard via Twitter) . The Shomrim reaction was that the public overreacted:
Chaim Hochhauser from the Stamford Hill Shomrim group, whose Jewish volunteers support policing in the area, said …
“Everyone knows this story has blown everything out of proportion. I have spoken to the organisers of the parade – they have apologised [for the signs]. They did not think it would get so public. It was just a misunderstanding.”
Thankfully, this did go public. A 26-year old filmmaker Sam Aldersley put up signs saying:
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO WALK WHEREVER YOU WANT ..
Stamford Hill West councillor for Hackney, Rosemary Sales, deemed the Shomrim posters ‘unacceptable’ and Hackney Council removed them.
However, Sam Aldersley’s posters telling women to walk freely through the borough were also taken down (see the photo of the young boy on a bicycle). He would have said the posters were up for a Torah procession which, for some sects, demands a segregation of the sexes.
That said, are private citizens allowed to dictate how the public byways may be used — where people can walk — even in religious processions? It seems unlikely. Why did Hackney not see this sooner?
Now back to the driving controversy. Not all Hasidic — or mainstream Orthodox — communities forbid their women to drive. The Jewish Chronicle explains:
One Stamford Hill rabbi said that it had “always been regarded in Chasidic circles as not the done thing for a lady to drive”.
But although some Chasidic sects discourage women from driving, others such as Lubavitch have no such policy. The wives of some senior non-Chasidic strictly Orthodox rabbis drive.
One local woman said that the policy “disables women. The more kids they have, the more they need to drive.” But she believed that some women would take no notice of the policy. “They say one thing, they do another,” she said.
A Briton writing for the Daily Kos adds that there is a practical basis for Hasidic women to drive:
Stamford Hill is, well, hilly. It is built on part of the escarpment of the Thames’ river valley and as such is quite steep. For mothers with large families, the use of a car eases the burden of taking children to school, especially if the children’s ages mean they go to several different schools or nurseries (kindergarten) or to separate boys’ and girls’ schools.
Some of us will wonder how the women obtained permission from their husbands to get a driving licence in the first place. Now, all of a sudden, it’s forbidden. Hmm. There’s a story here. When an update is available, it will appear here.
Some readers might say, ‘This is a Jewish problem’. No, it is not. It is a universal issue of faith. If some are reminded of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia, they would not be wrong. More mainstream Jews have objected to the Belz ban on women drivers.
I bring this story to Christian attention to warn against the dangers of insularity and extreme views. May we not fall into the same trap.
I have said in the past that a great danger faces Christians in that we are easily slipping into the mores and legalism of our brethren of other world faiths. Let’s look more closely
before we then refuse to leap.
More on the prohibition of Belz women drivers:
Harriette Thompson, aged 92 and 65 days, completed the 2015 San Diego Marathon in an impressive 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds.
She made world news. Some have questioned why the ’65 days’ has to be added. The San Diego Union-Tribune explains that:
The previous oldest woman to complete a marathon was 92 years, 19 days old.
The oldest male to run a marathon was India’s Fauja Singh who completed a 2011 Toronto marathon at the age of 100.
Thompson lives in a retirement home in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a former concert pianist.
She is a mould-breaker in many ways. The Union-Tribune had a more in-depth profile of her on May 30, 2015.
Thompson, born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was the only daughter. Her four brothers — all older than she — tormented her when she was growing up, especially when she played the piano.
She began playing the instrument at the age of four and was performing by the time she was seven. As a teenager, she rode her bicycle to and from lessons: a 26-mile round trip.
As an adult, she gave three recitals at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle and enjoyed rollerskating to class. The Dean of Women told her that ladies did not engage in that type of thing. Undeterred, Thompson said it was the best way for her to get to class on time!
She married a man named Sydnor who became a judge in North Carolina. Together, they had five children. When the children were old enough, Thompson took them to spend a year in Austria on two occasions. She wanted them to learn German and explore European culture. Sydnor stayed behind. Before his death earlier in 2015, he said:
She’s absolutely independent.
Sydnor battled cancer for a long time before his death on January 27. Despite Thompson’s independence, she cared for and deeply loved her husband. She is so grateful that he died in peace, without pain.
She began walking in marathons at the age of 76, when she was involved in the church choir. One of her friends said she was taking part in marathons for charity. The rest is history. The 2015 marathon was her 16th. She raised $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Thompson is no stranger to cancer herself. She has suffered both jaw and skin cancer. Several family members also died of the disease.
When many of us are sitting around moping, let us remember the excellent example of Harriette Thompson. For those of us who are able, let’s get up and get moving!
Continuing with a very brief exploration of women and marriage — the first part of which was yesterday’s post on wife selling — today’s looks at old advice about this honourable institution.
Molly Guinness, writing for The Spectator, scoured the publication’s archives and reported on them in ‘Never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker or a fribble’.
What, readers might ask, is a fribble?
Americans living along or visiting the East Coast might recognise the word if they have ever stopped for refreshment at Friendly’s. Indeed, their home page shows CEO John Maguire with a Fribble in his right hand. Friendly’s Wikipedia page says:
A Fribble is a thick shake, originally made with iced milk, now made with soft serve ice cream.
One of my best friends loved Fribbles.
Fribbles among ladies
The word ‘fribble’ is an old one, dating from 1633, so it comes as no surprise that the two brothers from Massachusetts who founded Friendly’s revived an ancient word which was probably once widely used in New England.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘fribble’ as a ‘trifle’ as well as
a frivolous person, thing, or idea.
This is the context of the word’s use in The Spectator, specifically this passage from 1876:
As we should say to women who wish for domestic happiness, never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker, or a fribble; so we should say to men with the same yearning, never marry a fool of any sort or kind. There is no burden on earth like a foolish woman tied to a competent man; unable to be his sweetheart, because she cannot help dreading him; unable to be his confidant, because she cannot understand him; unable to be his friend, because she cannot sympathise even with his ordinary thoughts.
To that, I would add another piece of old advice: never marry a woman with long fingernails or a perpetual nail job. She’ll never be able to cook or clean herself. Those nails will take priority. I know of no woman with elaborate nails who cooks or cleans. It’s hiring a woman-what-does and buying expensive ready meals from the supermarket as well as dining out on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
A quiet home
The same article from 1876 also mandates a quiet home, for which the woman is responsible:
Let the woman’s first requisite be a man whose home will be to him a rest, and the man’s first object be a woman who can make home restful…
I know wives who think that quiet is unimportant. They are wrong. Home should be a perpetual refuge from the chaos of the outside world.
In order to achieve that, the wife must create an orderly household and make sure children make a minimum of noise when Dad is at home to unwind.
Why feminism never succeeded in France — good advice
In 1906, the French Ambassador to London, M. Cambon, was appalled by English marriages, particularly the wives’ active social lives. The Spectator‘s entry explains:
Legally, English wives occupied a better position than their French sisters, but actually the latter were better off and better satisfied. No feminist movement, he pointed out, had ever succeeded in France.
That is still rather true today, although the laws regarding women have evolved immensely.
Yes, France has feminists, but feminism is a minority movement restricted to a niche of leftist intellectuals. It is not as vocal, strident or widespread as it is in English-speaking countries.
Cambon said that a French wife is the power behind the throne. Instead of seeking a career or social life outside the home that fulfils her, she immerses herself in her husband’s. In fact, the husband asks her for advice, which she freely gives. Cambon’s view was:
… she found at home all the satisfaction and all the responsibility inseparable from power, and consequently “had no pleasure in meddling with things outside”.
Although the Frenchwomen I have known since the 1970s do have outside activities, their home life is paramount and takes pride of place.
And there is much more of an equilibrium between husband and wife in most French marriages than there is in those of English-speaking countries.
This recent complementarianism thing of a husband ‘covering’ a woman is a worrying trend.
If I had a daughter, I would be most concerned about her marrying a domineering mate ruled by a misunderstanding or over-interpretation of Pauline verses in the New Testament. Such men are turning Christianity into fundamentalist Islam.
No wonder young women are becoming atheists or agnostics, seeking a non-religious mate. I cannot blame them.
Wife selling has taken place all over the world at various times throughout history.
A woman had no rights and could not own property, which is still the case, unfortunately, in countries (particularly Muslim ones) where she is considered only a partial person, such as a slave, and feeble-minded on top of that. Legally, this affects their rights of independence, inheritance and status to work or to drive.
Historically speaking in general, Wikipedia has a good summary of wife selling in various eras and in different countries. It’s well worth a read and quite an eye-opener.
Wives could be sold because they were viewed as disagreeable and neglectful of their duties in the home. Sometimes, they were adulteresses; it was common for a husband to sell his wife to her lover. However, they were also sold when the husband was in debt or needed money for strong drink.
In England, wife selling was popular among the lower classes between the 18th and early 21st centuries. Wife selling did not end here until 1913. The Wikipedia article cited is another excellent summary of a horrific practice. That said, some women, it states, wanted to be sold.
At the time, divorce was rare and very expensive. Only the wealthy could afford it. Selling one’s wife was a way of circumventing the legal system as well as Scripture.
Lawyers tried to deny it was actually taking place. The clergy turned a blind eye. Granted, sales were infrequent — perhaps two a decade over more than two centuries. However, news about wife sales, which often took place in a public square or at a pub, spread to the Continent where it was widely condemned as being an English practice. Yet, the American colonies also had a few wife sales in Connecticut and South Carolina.
Wives up for sale in England often wore a halter, which was then given to the purchaser afterward as a sign that the transaction was concluded.
As with slaves or livestock, the women’s physical attributes and capabilities were elucidated as they stood on display. The 28 April 1832 issue of The Spectator reported on a sale in Lancashire. Excerpts follow:
The man was a farmer in the neighbourhood ; the wife, a buxom, good-looking woman, of about twenty-two. They had been married in 1828 ; and having no children, and seldom agreeing with each other, they at length agreed to part. The Lancaster Herald puts the following speech into the month of the husband ; which, if genuine, is a curiosity in its way- “Gentlemen, I have to offer to your notice my wife, Mary Ann Thompson, otherwise Williamson, whom I mean to sell to the highest and fairest bidder. Gentlemen, it is her wish as well as mine to part for ever. She has been to me only a bosom serpent. I took her for my comfort, and the good of my house ; but she became my tormentor, a domestic curse, a night invasion, and a daily devil. Gentlemen. I speak truth from my heart, whim I say, may God deliver us from troublesome wives and frolicsome widows. Avoid them the same as you would a mad dog, a roaring lion, a loaded pistol, cholera zuorbui. Mount Etna. or any other pestilential phenomena in nature …
She can make butter and scold the maid ; she can sing Moore’s melodies, and plait her frills and caps; she cannot make rum, gin, or whisky; but she is a good judge of the quality, from long experience in tasting them. I therefore [offer] her, with all her perfections and imperfections, for the sum of fifty shillings.”
After an hour or two, the lady was purchased by a pensioner, for the sum of twenty shillings and a Newfoundland dog.
It is interesting that marriages in England needed no legal registration or church ceremony until the Marriage Act of 1753 was introduced.
After marriage, even before this time, women were at the mercies of their husbands and the legal system. In fact, the legal wording behind this is reminiscent of the language present-day complementarians use. Also note the sugary condescension (emphasis mine):
Women were completely subordinated to their husbands after marriage, the husband and wife becoming one legal entity, a legal status known as coverture. As the eminent English judge Sir William Blackstone wrote in 1753: “the very being, or legal existence of the woman, is suspended during the marriage, or at least is consolidated and incorporated into that of her husband: under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything“. Married women could not own property in their own right, and were indeed themselves the property of their husbands. But Blackstone went on to observe that “even the disabilities the wife lies under are, for the most part, intended for her protection and benefit. So great a favourite is the female sex of the laws of England“.
It would not surprise me if, 20 or 30 years from now, wife selling were to start again somewhere in the West, albeit privately.
It does not surprise me that young Western women are increasingly apprehensive about Christianity. Whilst I have discussed history and a secular legal system here, a small, yet growing, number of young churchgoing men would have no problem with coverture. Very sad, indeed.
In February 2015, I wrote about how the attire of Muslim women from the Middle East to Afghanistan changed dramatically from Western to mediaeval in 40 years.
For those who missed it the first time, I highly recommend it for the links to photos from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Le Monde has a blog post on a new socio-religious campaign in Algeria, ‘Be a Man’, which advocates that good Muslims cover every woman in their purview — wives, daughters, mothers, sisters:
Don’t let your women leave the house in daring attire.
The post has a campaign photo of a young father in normal street clothes sitting with his four young daughters, two of them toddlers, all wearing veils and leg-covering garments. The Koran does not suggest veils until puberty.
Le Monde explains:
According to CNN Arabic, numerous sheiks have given their support. Such as Monhim Abdel Samad Qoweider, imam of a mosque in Borj el Bahri, a suburb of Algiers, who believes that clothes indicate proof of a person’s morality …
Although there is a backlash on social media, it is unclear how effective it will be. We can but hope it is. Film director Sofia Djama, writing for France 24, lamented the state of women in Algeria:
Today, verbal violence is (a) daily (occurrence) and normalised. It’s super violent walking in the capital, Algiers, in a skirt or trousers.
Inevitably, some will say, ‘So what? That’s in Algeria’.
The issue is that this attitude is already prevalent in parts of Europe, particularly France. A few months ago, French media was full of news and comment on harassment of women in larger cities and on public transport: insults, propositions and groping by non-European men.
Of course, those familiar with poor French suburbs will know that this has been going on for at least 15 years. Gang rape is a real risk for young Muslim women who dare to walk around unveiled or in a modest skirt.
Now this harassment is going mainstream.
It is deplorable. But, who will stop it — and how? Without a constant reminder in the media, with the frequency of anti-‘racism’ rhetoric which now seems to encompass all conditions, this degrading trend seems set to continue.