When the US was built, only landed white men had the right to vote and were considered citizens. This didn't universally change until well into the 1800s. I won't speak to you about the UK since you know more about the history of that then I do, but I know enough to say that imagining that these countries and cultures formed in what we consider democratic process is truly laughable. They were built by and for white men, and of course, being wealthy was an added bonus and conferred additional privelege, but even the class system among white men was still the top of the hiearachy.
A large part of my point is that it's hard to escape and transcend these highly stratified origins, even as we improve laws, and cultural practices, we can't entirely get away from the past -unless we more actively challenge that culture that we are just barely removed from. Until 60 years ago in the US there were laws that prohibited women from doing hundreds of things that men could do. There were laws that said where blacks could go and not go, and what they could and could not do. That culture doesn't evaporate just because the laws have changed and that collective unconscious can't help but influence is in many ways that we are not entirely concious of. This is the point of this original story.