Women have had it rough a lot. And I don’t mean just now, when people are discussing the #metoo campaign and the glass ceiling. I mean even hundreds of years ago, women had it rough because their lives were so much harder (and shorter) due to the lack of modern conveniences.
In researching the Trappers series, I was shocked to realize that the average age was mid-twenties for both men and women. And women had a huge chance of dying in childbirth, because until the late 1800’s, nobody understood how infection worked, what germs were, or even basic sanitation. Imagine not knowing that having bad water would kill you? Imagine knowing if you were pregnant, you had a really huge chance of dying. Imagine if you got a cut, it was pretty much a death sentence because no one, not even “doctors” understood what caused the infection in the first place. There was no such thing as “keep clean bandages on it” because the idea of “clean” wasn’t what we think, and no one thought to apply it to injuries.
Obviously, I don’t dive into this kind of historical fact when writing my romances, because frankly they’d be filled with a lot of earthy terror and a ton of death. But the research was mind-blowing. It made me realize that while today’s fights are philosophical and justice-driven, not even 200 years ago, our fights were far more physical. It was the fight to live, to eat, and to survive. Crazy how reading a little bit of history can really make one feel very grateful for a dishwasher and antibiotic ointment.
The women in my books are a range of strong and dainty. Some are built for hard living, some have to learn their way into it. And all of them know that they need to be able to stand on their own two feet in order to live and thrive. They may find they can lean on their menfolk (and frankly, all my men are very very modern in their thinking in terms of marriage, women, and sex) but they have to get their hands dirty alongside them, too. It’s a partnership. And that doesn’t change no matter which century one lives in.