There are a few women throughout history that get some credit, like Nefertiti, Queen Elizabeth, or the Hindu goddess Kali. But by and large, our modern, Western view of women in history is very limited. Being a historical romance writer, I often hear the criticisms of new romance being “too modern” or “too feminist” because the heroines aren’t meek enough, or subservient enough. But women, just like men, were of infinite variations. Some were meek and traditional, but others, like Number Four on this list, from the 12th century, liked to delve into reasons why marriage was a sham, and no one should enter into it.
1. WOMEN BOXED
You know this is my favorite soapbox. So please refer to past blog posts about this, or refer to my books A LADY’S REVENGE and THE BOXER AND THE BLACKSMITH because I have historical notes at the back which explicate things.
2. WOMEN WENT TO WAR
The field of archeology has really progressed, and it has now been proven that there are female skeletons in soldiers graves. Some women have been discovered because of the daguerrotypes made of soldiers and passed down. Others from letters, and others from skeletons. See also Viking warrior burials. Now that archeologists are able to identify gender differences via pelvic shape, many warriors are now being revisited. Margaret Corbin fought in the American Revolution and actually received a pension for it. See also, Boudica, the Iceni queen of 60 AD.
3. WOMEN WERE SCHOLARS
4. WOMEN WORKED
Who else milked the cow when the men went away to war? Who chopped the wood when men were gone? Only rich women didn’t work. Poor women always worked. They worked in shops, they worked in fields, they worked in kitchens. According to records, they even worked as forewomen and blacksmiths while rebuilding Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s cathedral in London, 1675-1711.
5. WOMEN WERE PURVEYORS OF PORNOGRAPHY
In Regency England, there was a street near the Strand where one could buy erotic books. Most of these purveyors were women. I reference this obliquely in my book A LADY’S FINDER.
6. WOMEN INVENTED MILITARY TECHNOLOGY
Long before Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, Martha Coston invented Coston Flares. The flares are pyrotechnic, and had to be redesigned from the idea that her husband had left her when he died. Patented in the US in 1859, these signal flares are still used by the US Navy.
Edie Cay writes award-winning feminist Regency Romance about women’s boxing and relatable misfits. She is a member of the Regency Fiction Writers, the Historical Novel Society, ALLi, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can drop her a line on Facebook and Instagram @authorediecay.