Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fanny Kemble and Feminism

England ended slavery in 1833 which was three years before Fanny's husband inherited his plantations.  So being an Englishwoman and having been raised in a country that was nearing the end of slavery it makes sense that she was a strong abolitionist.  Still it was very impressive that she felt the strength in morality and character to express that opinion in the face of her husband.  Especially in a society where this was very much frowned upon.  In early 19th century it was definitely frowned upon for a woman to be so outspoken against her husbands beliefs, and against the majority of the country's.
Fanny's story was really inspiring, and I found it amazing that she could be so brave.  Although I can't imagine the constant battle tat must have been fought in her mind between the importance of her beliefs and her christian family values.  Divorce was much more accepted among the English church members than among the Catholics, but it was still considered a bad hing to split up a family.  Her christian familial beliefs kept her from publishing these first hand accounts, yet she still tried to change the system from the inside in the face of adversity.  In the article by Catharine Clinton she discusses how there were many first hand accounts of slavery that were awful to read and could serve as very personal persuasions against slavery, yet Fanny's focused more on the role of female slaves and the specific unfairness showed to them.  The injustice's that were put specifically on female slaves was one of the main policies that Fanny fought her husband about, and she continued to put her family and marriage at risk.  In this way and in the way that she was brave enough to express her opinions, Fanny was an early feminist and is an inspiration.  I agree with my classmates that she deserves more recognition than she gets, and I am surprised that she is not in my history textbook considering the role her family played in the public eye at that time.
I really enjoyed the presentation and the things it brought to light for me.  I had never heard of micro-histories before I read the article and I love it as a source of historical learning. It is much more engaging for me to learn through a narrative that is also based in fact and reflects the society of the time than it is to just read facts about that society.  I also enjoy how the micro-histories almost work as allegories because of their societal reflections.
Fanny Kemble was a woman who was most impressive for her time period, and is not celebrated as much as one would think she would be.  But I am glad we learned about her and got to read her writing to see what early advocacy for better treatment of women, even when they lacked basic human rights, looked like.

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