I will not lie, today is the best time ever to be born if you’re part of one or many marginalized groups or simply care about human well-being.
I’m a woman, I’m autistic and I’m half-Asian. Of course, I care about how people like me were treated in the “good old days”! And to not mention: I’m queer. Of course, you might think, she’s part of every minority you can possibly think of! Honestly, I’m surprised by that fact myself… So you don’t have to tell me, because I am who I am and who I was born to be.
I want to share a few reasons, from my point of view, that prove that the old days weren’t really anything that belonged in our current time. We are not fully developed and free as people until everyone is free, and if marginalized people aren’t free, then we haven’t reached our goal of bettering the world…
1. Women were second class. And we didn’t talk about periods and “female stuff” as much.
This hurt women in the past and still does in some places in the present day. I didn’t know what to expect when I was preparing for my first period. At some point, I actually didn’t realize that period blood was… blood. Because tampon/pad commercials were showing blue liquid to represent menstrual blood in the 90s and early 2000s. So I thought it looked that way. How could I know as an 11-12-year-old?! Naturally, I became a little bit distressed when I got my period because I didn’t know what to expect.
We also didn’t hear much about different kinds of period products. I heard of menstrual cups and period pants just a few years ago and it has truly saved my life! I used pads and later on, I used tampons for many years and hated my period to the point I believed I was transgender because I couldn’t handle it. So I went on the pill to get rid of it all. I wished I was a boy so badly in my teenage years!
Now when I know about these things and also the products available I no longer wish I was a man. Nope, it was NOT better in the old days!
2. Disabled people were “abnormal” and were hidden away. Also, autistic women weren’t even talked about!
Disabled people were hidden away in institutions, they could also be experimented or simply aborted just because they were disabled. Now, I’m not against abortion at all (I’m pro-choice), but these babies were aborted just for being disabled even when the couple wanted a child. Or they were given away after birth. I know this still happens, but not as in the old days.
Autism in female children and women wasn’t talked about. Even in the 90s. If I were a kid today and behaved as I did in the 90s with all of my sensory problems, stimming, lack of communication and social skills, etc, I would have got an autism diagnosis right there! But I didn’t because autism in girls was overlooked so badly. It still is, but it’s so much better, or at least we’re trying to become better.
3. Everyone was expected to fit in certain boxes – otherwise, you were a disgrace to your family (or possibly disowned by them!).
I remember my grandmother. She always talked about what others would think. She was so conditioned to think about others above herself all the time and she came from a time when our family and family trees were everything about us. No individual dreams, nothing of our own. Sure, independence can go out of hand as well, today we might be at the other end of the extremes. But at least my family no longer determines my worth and my ability to fit societal standards doesn’t decide if I’m worth being out in public or not.
Yes, people were forced to do things or they would be classified as mentally unstable or hysterical and locked up somewhere. Do we really want to go back to the “good old days”?
When I read about the history of psychiatric care, I get scared. Our historical past could be horror stories. I’ve always said that horror is real life, what’s supernatural – like ghosts and spirits and such – is less scary!
Many people are disabled, marginalized, and less fortunate. Do we really want to sacrifice them for the old days? Because nothing was better for these people back then.