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Rural feminism, err, what's that?

(60 Posts)
LiveFastDieOld2 Sun 07-Jul-13 08:23:19

I don't think I have ever heard the word feminism spoken in my rural backwater. We seem to be stuck in the Middle Ages with little potential for change. Virtually all the money and assets (very much not the same thing BTW in farming) are controlled by men with zero interest in giving up male control.

I am the only girl in my immediate friendship group who will inherit the family farm! All around me its going to be an older brother or a younger brother who will gain control of the farm. All my friends will get will be a few, sometimes a very few, tens of thousands of pounds in cash while the sons will inherit hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds of assets.

How much publicity does this injustice receive? Almost none!

Another problem is the extreme isolation of many girls in rural areas. If I'm working on Home Farm the only ladies I will see in a day will be my Mother, my younger sister and the two grooms. Once a month when I'm off seeing the tenant farmers it is slightly better because it is the Farmers' Wives that usually do the paperwork. The sons usually go the Fathers to market once a week, the daughters seldom if ever go.

How can the feminist movement move forward against this background.

GetStuffezd Sun 07-Jul-13 08:31:55

Interesting post!

My grandad (mum's mum) is a farmer with vast amounts of land, some of which he's sold over the years for development. Safe to say, he is extremely wealthy. When my mum, the eldest of five, was twelve, my grandma and grandad broke up and grandma moved out, leaving my mum to essentially raise the other four. She gave up her ideas of university and worked on the farm, which I know still hurts her now.

Grandad is now in declining health and is in the process of leaving his farm to his two sons and their sons - not a look in for my mum who did so much. She doesn't say much about it but I know she's very hurt.

BadSkiingMum Sun 07-Jul-13 08:41:01

That is interesting, because I suppose there is no equality influence on laws of inheritance in the same way that there is on the laws around divorce.

The only way out of it would seem to be for women to withdraw their unpaid labour if they know that they are not going to be rewarded at a later date.

lilystem Sun 07-Jul-13 08:42:44

Interesting live fast. I'm a farmer. To the extent I unload fertiliser/load grain lorries. I love watching the lorry drivers faces when they think I'm going to hit their precious lorry but then they realise I'm actually pretty good!

I'm divided on inheritance. For many smaller family farms it would destroy the business to split it. I too know a lot of families where the girls won't inherit. I think that's beginning to change though in that I know a few where because its the girl who shows the interest it is the girl who'll inherit. Don't forget also that on a lot of farms, yes they'll be inheriting a few million in assets but often they also inherit a lot of debt.

I don't agree with you on isolation - there's loads if things to get involved in - over the years I've done yfc, under 30's at the farmers club, local church, made friends with other local farmers - especially the girls.

Re male control - I know a lot of farmers who you'd think it was the man in control but actually it's the wife!

LiveFastDieOld2 Sun 07-Jul-13 08:51:17

I can think of several ladies in the area who have been left very hurt in exactly the way you describe. I can think of two who were practically, if not actually, made to move from the family home when their husband died and their son plus his wife wanted the big house for themselves. Their last few years were spent in a tiny farm cottage with a low income remembering how it used to be.

lilystem Sun 07-Jul-13 08:54:19

Good point bad skiing mum - women have to make sure they are getting what they are worth. Eg I only agreed to run the farm once I was clear on inheritance. When discussing my future with dh before kids came along I would only agree to sahm if he'd make me a director of his farm. We decided not to go down that route for various reasons but if we had he would have agreed.

AuntieStella Sun 07-Jul-13 08:59:50

Unless you're talking about a landed estate which may inherited only in certain ways (male primogeniture) usually with a title alongside, then it's a parental choice about who to leave things to.

It's hard to decide to break up an estate, and I can see the attraction in keeping it unified, but that probably does mean a very uneven potential inheritance.

Is there a similar imbalance between men and women running farms in France? I am wondering how far inheritance is relevant, as the system is so different there. And instead it might be down to how farming families raise their girls and boys.

LiveFastDieOld2 Sun 07-Jul-13 09:00:55

Yes Lilysystem there are things to do in the country. And I do them but all the time I'm aware there are young faces I hardly ever see because they are slaving away, usually on the smaller tenant farms.
The "it will destroy the business to split it" is used to justify (usually) male children getting vastly more of the nett assets than the girls. But when you really dig into the figures there is often a way round it if you want to promote gender equality.

LiveFastDieOld2 Sun 07-Jul-13 09:05:38

I'm sure that I feature in the long term plans of several local farmers. Marry their son off to me and gain control in a reverse take over. Farmer "controls" son who "controls" me. Little do they know!smile

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Sun 07-Jul-13 09:24:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Sun 07-Jul-13 09:26:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AuntieStella Sun 07-Jul-13 10:11:46

The law on Royal primogeniture hasn't actually changed yet. They've made various statements about intent, so it can be done retrospectively.

And those statements explicitly cover only the Royal succession. If other titles or estates are entailed in the male line, they will be unaffected.

That's why I was wondering about France, where property must be divided between all children. Estates are split (and then sometimes reformed via buying out) all the time. Anyone know if this has led to a different gender balance in farming there?

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Sun 07-Jul-13 10:12:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AuntieStella Sun 07-Jul-13 10:47:07

Nope, actual legislation hasn't yet been brought forward.

But there are occasions when retrospective legislation is permissible, and this would fit that category, as the intent has been agreed and widely publicised and HMQ and CHOGM have already up indicated approval. It'll be tidied up with a new law at some point.

I think it's a pity that it wasn't done in the Parliamentary time available before the expected Cambridge birth (shows where it is in the priority list of the legislature) but the delay won't mean any difference in effect when they do get round to it.

HazeltheMcWitch Sun 07-Jul-13 10:52:38

And those statements explicitly cover only the Royal succession. If other titles or estates are entailed in the male line, they will be unaffected.

Exactly. So, to illustrate, if the Cambridges have a girl, she will (likely), be queen; yet she won't inherit the Duchy of Cornwall, as this must still pass to a male.

NoComet Sun 07-Jul-13 11:01:27

Yes, there are inheritence issues, but my friends who are farmers wives all work outside the farm to help make ends meet. They are better educated than their DHs, do the farm paperwork and are hardly down trodden.

And no they don't clean and work in tesco. They have had good jobs in local banks and the local local goverment. They stayed on and did buisness studies betec at the FE FEfor teo years, there DH's left school.

NoComet Sun 07-Jul-13 11:02:36

for two years (kindle fire issues)

LiveFastDieOld2 Sun 07-Jul-13 12:01:56

It is what seems to happen when the farmer retires or dies that upsets me. Assets seem to get shuffled around mainly to the advantage of men and mainly to the disadvantage of the women. 100% right the wives are not badly downtrodden while their DH is in charge but when that changes their problems can become acute quite fast. I can see it has happened or is happening on almost every farm round me.

EachAndEveryHighway Sun 07-Jul-13 12:13:34

Interesting that the Royals are breaking with tradition and if Royal baby is a girl she will be first-in-line for the throne, not lose her place when / if son is born. I wonder if the aristocracy will follow suit in the next few years, and even farmers.

YoungBritishPissArtist Sun 07-Jul-13 12:24:51

I knew a woman who called herself a farmer's wife. Her and her husband ran the farm together and divided the work equally, so wasn't she a farmer too? Defining yourself by your husband's job doesn't sit well with me.

Mitchy1nge Sun 07-Jul-13 12:37:35


in Italy you cannot leave one child out of your will, the land has to be divided up so all the children get a fair share and apparently this causes really serious headaches - eg if your slice isn't enough to provide you with a living you have to work collaboratively with siblings to work the land as a whole, but they can sell their bit and it seems confusing and not all that practicable unless everyone wants the same thing for the future of that land

Mitchy1nge Sun 07-Jul-13 12:38:51

I think I was going somewhere with that but I completely forgot what I was saying

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 12:51:45

My ex is a farmer. Everyone I met through him was massively sexist. I sort of hoped this was unusual, and still hope so.

Yes, his mum helped his dad, but it was always explained in those terms - she 'helped' while he did it. And while my ex was expected to keep coming back to his dad's and helping out, his sister was seen as less capable and less useful.

Something that drove me mad was that the whole family had absolutely no respect for anything the women did 'on the side' of farming, whether that was women going out and earning money, or my ex's sister studying, or anything like that. They were still constantly the butt of stupid jokes about a women's place being in the kitchen, and they were expected constantly to work around the men who decided when to do everything. I really do think there was a big issue, at least in that community.

I don't think it is just to do with who inherits what - it is to do with attitudes, which change slowly. IMO this is why people need to be taught more about healthy relationships at school.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 12:54:09

Btw, my ex's mum would see herself the way star describes it, absolutely at the centre of things, not downtrodden at all, etc. etc.

She had very premature baby twins who nearly died, and her husband still thinks it's hilarious to explain that the only nappy he ever changed was when the nurse at the hospital insisted he needed to do it. After that, she did it all. Cos that's what women do, right?

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Sun 07-Jul-13 13:03:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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