Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

At first I did not understand Lady Mary’s letters, but with Mrs. Hamovit’s explanation the importance of her writing was clear. When Lady Mary traveled she was able to learn about how women in turkey were different to women in London, where she previously lived. I thought Lady Mary’s thoughts on how Turkish women lived were very interesting. She marveled at the freedom that the women found in being covered, which led me to wonder how much freedom they actually had. Lady Mary’s evidence was that Turkish women did not get attention based on their bodies because they were completely covered. Lady Mary also argued that because Turkish women were anonymous it freed them from being harassed. I found these arguments to be strong, but only to a degree. Although these women were free from harassment, it was because they had been protected. A defensive position in reference to feminism can only go so far. The same idea applies with dress code. Dress codes are often sexist because they force women to cover up, essentially to protect them from men. While this can protect women, it also hurts them immensely. The better way to combat the sexualization of women's bodies would be to teach men that women are not objects to be looked at, instead they are human beings to be respected. So while Lady Mary had very good points about the freedom that women can gain from being covered up, those ideas should stay in her time, and not continue to current day. Lady Mary seems to represent the opposite of third-wave feminism, touting the merits of covering women, but in the name of feminism.

Lady Mary also reminded me of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Lady Mary was a rebel who wrote about sex, and love but to a lesser extent than Millay. Lady Mary had to be more reserved because of the time period that she lived in, if she had written pieces similar to Millay, it would have been very inappropriate. I also found that the connections between Lady Mary and the modern day articles were very similar to Millay’s poems and how the issues she brought up are still issues today. I think that it is very important to relate issues in culture today with issues that have been brought up in the past. Not only can we learn from our mistakes in history, but we can use insights like Lady Mary’s to better understand a problem.

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