By James Wilson
In the history of the world sometimes changes come awfully fast, and sometimes they move at the speed of glaciers. Some people claim that change is always good, but tell that to the people of Jerusalem when the Crusaders or the Romans were outside the walls.
All through history, most men and women were not considered fully adult. They were the great unwashed, and little was expected of them. They were simply supposed to do as they were told by their betters.
Little by little, with the help of the pike and halberd, the Black Death, the firearm and the printing press, that began to change. Men became expected to be adult, and the fruition of that came during the enlightenment, when the ‘Rights of Man’ became what we would now call a meme.
It moved unevenly, of course. In the United States, at first only property owners were considered fully adult, but over the last couple of centuries the list of adults has grown longer until it encompasses all men and women of every race.
Why were women last? The answer is simple. So long as muscle-powered weapons were all that existed, women would always be at a disadvantage. A small, concealable pistol makes a 90-pound woman the match for a 300-pound muscle-man, a thing otherwise impossible. A very few women could successfully fight a man that outweighed and outmuscled them to such a degree, but the vast majority would never have a chance without lead, fulminate of mercury and gun-cotton…and the guts to use them.
Like every other venture into adulthood, progress is uneven. It remains uneven for men to this day, and there are contrary voices trying to persuade almost everyone that they aren’t adults, they’re perpetual victims, permanent children who can’t be expected to exhibit adult behavior.
There is even the so-called
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