I was asked today why I had posted an article on modern feminism on my Facebook Steampunk community page. What makes this comment even harder to understand is that today is International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the achievements of that half of the human race that spent a lot of history being ignored and suppressed. Some things never change, such as the studied ignorance of how the Suffragettes and Suffragists fought for women’s rights. It wasn’t until I was at university that this historical topic was discussed.
The Australian school curriculum doesn’t like to delve into the stickier and nastier parts of history. Take my schooling. If you studied Modern History in your senior years of high school, it was all about the the Great Depression and the Two World Wars of the Twentieth Century. If you studied Ancient History, its all about the Greeks and Romans, with a little bit of British Medieval Kings and the Feudal System for a laugh. There wasn’t much mention of women’s roles in history, unless you were Caligula’s sister-wife. During my childhood, the only mention of suffragettes I heard was in Disney’s version of Mary Poppins.
So, why is modern Feminism relevant to Steampunk? Without the Victorian Women’s Movement, there would be no Feminism. The Victorian era created social turbulence due to industrialisation; to the sudden flowering of the sciences; and the burgeoning of social reforms that saw women and children gaining their rights, the end of slavery in America, and the formation of organisations like the RSPCA. Feminism owes it to the Suffragettes to remember their battles, losses and, victories.
So, my reply? “Feminism. Suffragettes. … And I will post what I like on my own damn page.”