Well, okay, so ducks, I’m a bit of a silly goose.
As a very helpful commenter pointed out, I’m an idiot without any fact-checking ability because I ran with the front-page article on the English custom of wife selling as if it were a hoax. And it ain’t, more to my chagrin–although I should point out, that when I got off my ass and finally did do the fact-checking, there’s not a whole lot of very credible evidence for it on the free net–a lot of 19th century newspaper articles, and of course the Hardy novel; but one should really not put much credence in 19th century news articles. (It should also be noted that the edit history of the article shows it was written today My mistake, didn’t dig deep enough into the edit history.)
Be that as it may. I won’t even point out that if I got fooled, so did substantial chunks of the internet, most of whom ran with the story as if it were a hoax as well. (It seems that the Wiki tradition is to put slightly misleading headlines on the front page which link to totally legitimate articles. I was not aware; my main experience of April Fool’s day hoaxing are Google’s patently false ones.)
So anyway, I took the post down for a while. Not because I want to run away from being stupid, but because I had some freelance to do today for a tiny amount of money and really didn’t need to get a bunch of emails about how stupid I was. Thanks, got that the first time. And I wanted to fix what I wrote.
And it’s not as if I still don’t have a feminist bone or two to pick with Wikipedia.
Because here’s the deal: of all the articles they could have posted prominently, they posted this one. Now, maybe it says great things about us as a people that we think the concept of selling your wife so outrageous that it could only be a prank. That would be nice to think.
But how much more likely that the folks who organized today’s front page instead thought it would be totes harharhar to lead with an article about how women were property. With fun echoes of how other people were once considered property. And excuse me for being a paranoid lefty, but in today’s climate–when we’re seeing a tremendous backlash against women’s rights (just look at all the anti-abortion laws being passed, the Stupak amendment, the return of an anorexic beauty ideal, etc. etc. etc.) coupled with the steady drumbeat of racism on the rightwing fringe (examples too obvious and numerous to get into)–well, yeah, this whole fiasco troubles me. Quite a bit.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this:
Would I like to see “wife selling” legalized in America? Nope … it seems like slavery (one person owning another). But I would like to see the modern practice of taking hubby to the cleaners in divorce court ended.
That also seems to be a lot like slavery … or at least it’s like indentured servitude. There’s no moral reason why a hubby should be forced to buy his freedom, any more than there is any moral reason why a hubby should be permitted to sell his soon-to-be ex-wife’s freedom.
Or how it’s the first post in this Straight Dope thread titled “April Fool’s articles I wish were real.”
So yeah: lulz. We’ll drag up one of the most misogynistic things we can find in our database (and yeah, I know all about how it was a way around restrictive divorce laws, and how the women were supposed to not mind–which goes to show you just how low the English opinion of women was back then, and how desperate they could be under the law, not that this was some kind of good thing) and make it our lead post on a day it is guaranteed to be picked up everywhere! And for the true deep lulz, it will actually be true! Hahahaha! Stupid internet! Stupid ladybloggers! (Well, ladyblogger. I seem to be the only one dumb enough to write about it as if it were true.)
I mean, the rest of the articles are all mostly harmless (though somewhat guy oriented, or rather doood oriented: mentioning James Brown–no, not that one, fighter jets, video games, crime, and the hy-larious idea of the city of Halifax having sex with multiple partners. And a monkey.) But the main, featured, excerpted article is about selling women as property.
Okay, fine. I see sexism everywhere. I even flew off the handle about a non-hoax. But you want to know something? There are only two mentions of women on the front page: the wife-selling article…and this ad:
Fat ladies! Is that hilarious or what?
(Yes, I’ve taken down the original. Yes, it’s in the time machine, I think; it’s probably also on the Facebook page. I’ve got enough going on in my life that I don’t need to have EVERY monument to my foolishness on the homepage of my blog.)