Yesterday, our Gchat took a strange digression.
Penny found this blog post on Freshly Pressed about being called “ma’am” and all attendant young, modern female frustration and WHY can’t we just have a gender neutral pronoun already?!?!? (Ok, the gender neutral pronoun is totally a P&P addition to this sentiment and we are ALL FOR IT.)
The poster suggested “m’lady” as an all-age substitute.
We don’t even know what happened next, but it was too good not to share. We therefore present to you P&P’s Victorian Lives (and rapid class descension).
Polly: Well m’lady implies possession, but I agree with the sentiment. I detest being called ma’am. In no universe should I be a ma’am. I wouldn’t even be that spinster-y by Victorian standards.
Penny: Ehhhhh… we’re teetering on the edge of unmarriageable.
Polly: We’d just have to weasel our way into an arrangement through first being a governess.
Penny: Hahahha would we be educated enough to be governesses? And anyway, we aren’t complete antidotes – I honestly think both of us would be married by now.
Polly: Without cosmetic dentistry, no one would have gotten near this face.
Penny: HAHA Polly. It’s the nineteenth century; no one has good teeth.
I’d probably be Mrs. Baker.
Polly: I’d be Mrs. Butcher. Or Mrs. Cheesemonger.
Penny: Actually, given where I grew up, I would be Mrs. Farmer.
Polly: In that case I’d be Mrs. Miner, and I’d be a young widow.
Penny: I’d have as many children as chickens.
…Maybe I wasn’t born in the wrong century
Penny: Hahah seriously.
I mean, whenever I say I was born in the wrong century, it’s with the working assumption that I would have been born to a privileged, intellectual family.
But… if we transported our modern economy back to the nineteenth century… I’m a maid, mopping up those intellectual laboratories. Maybe if I knew how to read and write and worked for a very progressive non-existent female scientist, I’d get to be her amanuensis.
What would be the Victorian equivalent of a data systems engineer?
Probably a ship builder or something.
So, I’d be a maid as well because it of course all comes down to what our fathers do.
Penny: Oh, well my father is a teacher/university professor. So, I might be solidly middle class, even for Victorian England. (Editor’s Note: HA! England. Notice how we assume we also changed nationalities?) But his father was a farmer. So. I don’t know how that would work, really, because it’s the modern economy that allows for more class mobility.
Thence followed lots of philosophical-ish discussion about the class system, capitalism, feminism, and lots of other isms.
How we imagine our Victorian Selves versus the reality of our Victorian Selves: