While people absolutely adore fighting on social media about issues of social justice, Facebook fights in general are notorious for being full of opinions and totally devoid of actual information. Arguments about feminism are no different. I’m not here to impose opinions, but let’s have a look at some facts.
There’s really no denying that lady life has been rough for centuries. While you might think that feminism is about setting bras on fire and braiding armpit hair, it’s really about barring absolutely insane laws like these from existing in any way, shape, or form. Here are eight activities that were illegal for women to do in recent history…and some that women around the world still can’t do today.
1. Opening a line of credit.
In the ’60s, women had to have two things if they wanted to open a line of credit: good financial standing, and a husband. Most banks refused to give credit cards to single women. Fortunately, people removed their heads from…well…you know where in 1974, when the practice became illegal.
2. Serving on a jury.
Until the ’70s, many states denied women the right to serve on juries because evidently, the people who pushed watermelon-sized masses out of pinholes while their pelvises separated were “too frail” to handle the gory details of criminal activity. Following the 1974 ruling that women without husbands could handle using credit cards, 1975 legislation made it illegal to ban women from sitting on juries based on sex alone.
3. Taking oral contraceptives to actually avoid conception.
The pill was created in 1957, but was only intended to fix “extreme menstrual distress.” It was approved for contraceptive use in 1960, but if you weren’t married, you weren’t getting a prescription. Doctors were mostly men back then, which meant that dudes were regulating women’s sex lives. Sounds familiar.
4. Working while pregnant.
Until 1978, it was legal for employers to fire pregnant women. Thankfully, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act later became a thing. Today, employers respond on the opposite end of the spectrum by giving pregnant women in America the lousiest maternity leave in the developed world. Huzzah!
These might sound archaic, but women around the world still face bizarre legislative injustice today. Check out these little bundles of crazy, for example.
5. Driving a car.
Women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive cars, because officials say that women behind the wheel “undermine social values,” which is an idea that makes about as much sense to me as astrophysics would to a hamster.
6. Serving as a witness.
In Yemen, women aren’t recognized as full people in a court of law. Even if a woman agrees to testify in a case, a man has to back up her testimony. Lawmakers might think that women are half human, but the people who came up with that nonsense are all stupid.
Women cannot vote in the Vatican City. While women could not vote in Saudi Arabia for centuries, they were finally granted suffrage in 2015. That means that the Vatican City is uniquely screwed up, and is the only country that bars women from voting to this day. Hey, Pope Francis. You’re a progressive guy. Let’s get on that, shall we?
Women in Pakistan aren’t allowed to shop during Ramadan in July. Just like people shame girls in school for, like, having shoulders and legs, legislators in Pakistan say that this has to be the law because men will get too distracted. Original, Pakistan. Real original.
Again, have your opinions. That’s fine. But let’s try to avoid doing that whole “denying women the right to speak about their lived experience” thing. It’s even less cool than not being able to drive a car for no apparent reason.