You guys, I just finished reading The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger. It's the based-on-a-true-story historical novel of a richypants British lady who goes to Egypt with her ladies' maid, because richypants has TB (a.k.a. Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge coughing up blood disease) and the Egyptian air is good for her lungs.
|Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge: dying of TB never looked so good.|
So anyway, the maid (Sally) gets her eyes opened and she learns lots about the world and has adventures until OH NOES [SPOILER] she totes gets knocked up! [That's not really a spoiler, they mention it in every review of the book, because that's kind of the main plot of the book]
Anyway, it got me thinking about how much better off women - particularly single women - have it so much better these days, rather than the Victorian era when knocked-up maid Sally finds herself out of work, abandoned(ish) by her lovah and spurned by her beloved mistress.
I've spent enough time living in the 20th and 21st centuries that it's insane to me that getting knocked up out of wedlock used to be the worst thing that could ever happen to someone. Women like Sally grew up sheltered, not knowing very much about the birds and the bees. Sally specifically made it to age 30 without ever being kissed, so she had no idea what she was in for when super-sexy dragoman OMAR came in late at night and TOTALLY SEDUCED HER.
|(*Note: it wasn't this Omar who seduced her. |
This Omar is way better than the one who seduced poor Sally)
The whole thing is an argument in favour of teaching people about contraception. Sally [SPOILER] loves her son, but having a child out of wedlock in 1864 when you're a British ladies' maid? Not the best life decision.
Anyway, it's crazy how things have shifted now to the point that there are daycares in high schools, high-profile celebs get knocked up without being married, and it's celebrated to hear that somebody's having a baby (whether or not they're married).
It all reminds me of poor Ethel from Downton Abbey season 2, who made the same idiotic mistake and, like Sally, was shocked and surprised that everybody didn't support her once she was with child. And it all makes me happy to be a) living in 2012 and b) not knocked up.
|Ethel from Downton Abbey did not have a very good time.|