I recently attended a book fayre. This was a fantastic day and I spoke with many members of the public, something I never imagined I would have the nerve to do being the shy, retiring person I am.
There was one person in particular that stuck in my mind.
Now, before I get into this I will say that I am an avid believer in the rights of everyone. Women, men, LGBT, children, dogs, ponies and frogs as well as ‘other’ (as they now place on forms.)
The person asked me about my books, great, I thought and began to describe the characters, plot ECT. They listened intently, let me say my piece then folded their arms.
‘Your main character is a man?’
‘I see. You didn’t think to have the character a strong independent woman?’
‘No, the character is male’
‘I shall not be reading it ‘
I went on to try to explain that in the time my story is set, the character (an inspector) would have been a man, that was the era they were living in, there were few women of power with the exception of the late Queen Victoria.
My comments fell on deaf ears. I mentioned that whilst the main character is male’, there were plenty of intelligent and highly capable women. Not good enough.
In the early 1900’s this is how it was :
The 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act made any homosexual act illegal, even in private. Punishable by imprisonment, fines even hanging.
Property most often passed to male heirs.
Women with same sex partners lived as ‘sisters’ etc.
Children were sent down mines and up chimneys, beaten often with little food to eat.
Do I agree with any of the above? Absolutely not!
Is it possible to go back in time to change this? No, I’ve sat in a Deloreon and take it from me, they cannot take you back in time.
The past is our exercise/reference book , we should acknowledge it, learn from it but never deny it.
To pretty out all of the struggles of the past is to tell future generations that it didn’t happen, that life is always plain sailing, that if you don’t like something simply cover it up or slap a filter on it.
As lighthearted as my Billoughby series is, I want readers to ask why. Why were there few female police officers, why were there no homosexual characters, why did it take so long to get anywhere or, why were there orphaned homeless children.
Public lavatories for instance, great if you were male, they simply did not have them for women.
I’m not anti-feminist neither am I an ostrich.
Some may choose to sweep the unpleasantries of history under the rug, I choose not to.
Just maybe it will make them realise how very fortunate we are and how far we have come.