Victorian-era American wisdom regarding romance, marriage, and courtship is fascinating! A collection of 19th century newspaper clippings provides a wide range of answers to the question: Who Makes the Best (Victorian) Wives? Throughout the late nineteenth century, much (conflicting) advice for the hymeneal-minded.
Note: Part of a blog series including Blondes are Favorites (Who Makes the Best (Victorian) Wives?).
Nineteenth Century popular belief–wholly supported by Medical Doctors’ and scientists’ claims–genuinely believed that educating females in the same manner as males invited an entire host of disastrous results. Those terrifying results included everything from destruction to the woman’s reproductive system, mental breaks (yes, insanity!), and a long list of physical diseases. Because the vast majority believed these consequences to be true, women weren’t allowed to seek education in a male-dominated classroom. The battle over co-education continued long after the late 19th Century for these reasons. Not only was the woman’s mind and body at terrible risk, should she be educated like a male, but everyone knew a female mind couldn’t take in significant learning.
After reading one little segment (a “one-night stand”) within Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger’s One-Night Stands with American History: Odd, Amusing, and Little-Known Incidents. I have just one thing to say: I was born in the correct century. Maybe not as far as chivalry and honor among men go, but definitely as far as prevailing attitudes regarding education of females. I share one section of Shenkman and Reiger’s entertaining book, with two cited sources.
WOMEN ARE DUMBER
In the late 1800’s many physicians regarded increased female education as a primary factor in a general decline of female health. A woman’s brain was simply not capable of assimilating a great deal of academic instruction (and that’s just the beginning of the quote).