Sunday 14 January 2024

Reasons to Be Cheerful 2023: 32

2023 has been an Annus Horribilis. Is there anything to be happy about?

Here's a timeline of women's rights regarding money

1612 Last person burned at the stake for heresy in England. (Pic shows a "Salem witch costume".)

1677 Parliament repeals the writ De Heretico Comburendo, which made burning at the stake the punishment for heresy.

1774 Austria became the first European nation to introduce a state education system.

1789 Pennsylvania outlaws slavery.

1824 Repeal of the Test Act abolished the requirement to assent to the 39 Articles for many professions.

1836 First black men become Mormon priests.

1871 Bank Holidays Act designated 4 holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 5 in Scotland.

Our Woman of the Day Susanna Salter born OTD 1860 Ohio, first woman elected mayor in the US. A group of men opposing the involvement of women in politics submitted her name hoping to humiliate all women. The joke was on them. She won with a thumping majority and was an effective mayor. 

1873 Jeannie Senior is the first woman in the UK to be appointed as a civil servant (outside the Post Office). She was appointed as the first female inspector of the education of girls in pauper schools and workhouses.

1880 November: The Isle of Man grants female suffrage in an amendment to the Manx Election Act of 1875.

1888 Brazil abolishes slavery.

Our Woman of the Day Elizabeth Gurney of Norwich. OTD 1800 she married Joseph Fry. As well as raising 11 children, this remarkable woman brought about the 1823 Gaols Act, mandating women-only prisons with women warders to protect women prisoners from rape and sexual exploitation. (@TheAttagirls)

The following give rights to the unborn child, says @TradCatholicMan: Section 47 of the Children’s Act 1989, Infant Life Preservation Act 1929, Congenital Disabilities Act 1976.

1942 The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church. The Catholic Church didn’t follow suit until 1983. 

Laws requiring "active resistance" to rape were repealed in the 1960s and 70s.

50 years ago, Dublin pubs refused to serve women pints of beer unless accompanied by a man. Nell McCafferty led 30 women to a pub where each ordered a brandy and a pint of Guinness. The bartender refused the beer request, so they drank their brandies and walked out. (@Katiadower)

1972 Catholic seminarians cease to be ordained as exorcists, but continue to be ordained as lectors and acolytes (readers and servers).

1978 Hannah Dadds became the London Underground’s first woman Tube driver, after completing a 7-week training course.

1990 On this day in 1990, married women in the UK finally became independent entities for income tax purposes, their income no longer treated as though it belonged to their husbands. Unbelievable, isn’t it? Almost three million women benefitted immediately. (@AnniesArboretum. You read that correctly: 1990.)

2008 The common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were formally abolished in England and Wales in 2008 and Scotland in 2021.

2022 Single-sex toilets are made compulsory in the UK. Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said the government wants all new public buildings in England to have separate male and female toilets. 

2022 Singapore will repeal its ban on sex between men, said Lee Hsien Loong, the country’s prime minister. In 2018, India’s highest court also scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex, while Thailand has recently moved closer to legalising same-sex unions. (The Week 2022-08-21)

2022 We are thrilled to announce that the word "woman" will not be removed from our Maternity Protection Act 1994. Ireland's Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 has been amended, and the word "woman" has been reinstated. (@TheCountessIE. She points out that “inclusivity” means “excluding half the human race”.)

2022 Florida bans puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgery for minors.

2022 Mermaids sued the LGB Alliance for being an inadequate charity. Now Mermaids is under investigation by the Charity Commission.

2023 is the bicentenary of the 1823 Gaols Act that brought in sex-segregation of prisons, and female warders for female prisoners.

2023 UK to ban single-use cutlery and plates. (This means that you get only an ineffective wooden fork to eat whole spinach leaves and boiled eggs. Sales of foldable pocket cutlery should boom.)

2023 Illinois bans assault weapons.

2023 Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival has women and girls in the procession for the first time. (It’s a Victorian “revival”.)

2023 Scots police disassociate themselves from Stonewall.

2023 Sadiq Khan promises free school meals for all London primary schoolchildren. (There's the inevitable backlash.)

2023 Leicester Cathedral celebrates first all-female clergy team (first for England).

2023 New legislation increasing the legal age of marriage to 18 has come into force in England and Wales. Under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act, it is now a crime to exploit vulnerable children by arranging for them to marry, or enter a civil partnership, under any circumstances. Campaigners argued that a loophole allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent was being exploited to coerce young people into child marriage. Those found guilty of arranging child marriages face up to seven years in prison. (The Week)

2023 Eli Lily agrees to cap insulin at $35, dropping the price by up to 70%. 

2023 World Athletics votes to exclude transgender athletes (presumably from women’s sports)

2023 Italy criminalises going abroad to acquire a baby born to a “surrogate mother”. 

2023 Drugs and alcohol do not make you more creative, research finds (Guardian, 2023-03-25)

2023-05-03 Essex pub that displayed racist dolls closes after boycott (The golliwogs were taken down, but the pub owners replaced them. They didn’t just dangle them from the rafters – they hanged them from the rafters.)

2023-05-12 Wind is main source of UK electricity for first time (

2023 The NHS bans puberty blockers for children outside of clinical research. 

2023 Oxfam chief leaving after anti-trans 'villain' cartoon resembling JK Rowling (Express)

2023 Japan raises the age of consent (established in 1907) from 13 to 16. 

2023 Alcohol sales are going down, sales of healthy alternatives are going up. (Expert on BBC Breakfast)

2023 Ghana abolishes the death penalty for “ordinary crimes”.

2023 World Swimming bans transgender athletes from women’s events (

2023 In Ireland, trans identified male Barbie Kardashian has been transferred to a male prison. Kardashian, currently serving time for making threats to rape and murder his mother, had recently threatened to rape female prison officers. (

2023 The American Academy of Pediatrics plans to review the evidence for gender-affirming medical care and potentially amend its policies.

2023 EU bans glitter.


1753 Jewish naturalisation bill 1753. After an outcry, repealed December 1753. 

1855 Arthur de Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines is published.

Women wanted to be a part of polar expeditions from the start, but in many instances, they were purposely excluded. Shackleton... received a letter from three women eager to join his crew. (@JSTOR_Daily)

1929-1973 7,600 people were forcibly sterilised in North Carolina.

As for France: the legal age of consent was only made official in 2021, and it was set at 15. (@thisihowweduet)

2022 Primark is reinstating single-sex changing rooms – but allowing anyone in the women’s who “identifies as a woman”. Booths have curtains that don’t reach the floor. Staff say they’ve been told they “must” allow in men who claim to be women. (Self-ID is not law.)

2023 Dancing in public is outlawed in Iran. 

Universities in Japan have lowered women's exam scores for years to deny them entrance.

2023 Merrythought sell 10,000 golliwogs a year.

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