It hadn't been proven, of course. When she actually ran the Boston Marathon a man charged onto the course and tried to physically take her out! That, she told us before a different marathon a few years back, made her "a radical."
That's the first thing to note about prejudice. First it argues what it claims are just facts, and then, not content to stand back and watch them in action, like watching women try and fail to run marathons and then say "I told you it wouldn't work" it intervenes and resorts to sabotage instead, which sounds very much like we aren't nearly so certain of what we claimed to be certain of. Also, prejudice is very polite until it is challenged, and then not so much.
Prejudice is able to think fast on its feet. At base it is an irrational gut fear. But on the surface it is full of reasoning skills. Typically, when people have been told that a particular right or something involving equal treatment is not going to be allowed, it is said to be for their own good, not detriment. You wouldn't want those rights anyway, they say. Voting is a nasty business, you should be glad you aren't a man so you don't have to be part of the dirty world of politics (and power), or You are much happier being a slave, lucky you!
Yesterday I played music written by a half dozen women from the 19th and 20th centuries. Their stories were pretty much the same. They started as child prodigies, then were married off to men they didn't love but their fathers loved the men's finances. Usually they were decades older. Then they were forced to stop that nonsense with the public music making because it was unseemly for a woman, and composing was often viewed the same way. One was even forbidden teaching because it would look like she needed to money, and of course that would make her husband look like he couldn't provide.
Before playing a piece by Fanny Mendelssohn I explained that some of her piano pieces had gotten published, but under her brother's name. Naturally Felix had a good explanation for this:
From my knowledge of Fanny I should say that she has neither inclination nor vocation for authorship. She is too much all that a woman ought to be for this. She regulates her house, and neither thinks of the public nor of the musical world, nor even of music at all, until her first duties are fulfilled. Publishing would only disturb her in these, and I cannot say that I approve of it.
Isn't that nice of him? My students didn't seem to be impressed, though. The idea that she didn't want to be recognized as the author of her own music does seem pretty high on the bullshit meter, does it not? And then to have it explained that she was much to busy being a housewife to even think about publishing, or even musical contacts.
These days there are plenty of women raising families and having careers. But you might trip over the argument that a woman in the 19th century might not have time for music and her wifely duties.
After all, she only managed to write about 460 pieces of music. But don't worry, that was never the point anyway.
if you were wondering, Felix's output consists of around 150 publications and 40 which were not published, several of which contain multiple pieces and a few of which are very large works, so without taking the time to count everything up (and being unable to find a number online) let's just say that she seems to have been just about as prolific as he was. Or if not (let's say he wrote enough opus numbers with 5 or more items to easily surpass her total) that having found time to write nearly 500 pieces of music still exposes his argument that she is too busy to soil herself with musical things to be the pile of crap that it is.
Don't forget, www.pianonoise.com is new every Friday. This week there is a new article on Robert Schumann, a new recording from a concert at Trinity Cathedral, and the pianonoise radio program is all about sets of three.