So why did medieval women go into prostitution? Ruth Karras notes that while most medieval prostitutes were probably not coerced into their trade, becoming a prostitute wasn't any woman's childhood fantasy, either. As for the actual reason, Karras makes this observation:. Prostitution may have been the only acceptable way for some women to support themselves in the absence of a husband who would provide for them economically.
Unfortunately, most prostitutes' reasons can only be guessed at due to a lack of records in this area. Historians must generally rely on court records that mention women accused of whoredom; very rarely do records detailing the workings of actual brothels still exist. Since the records in question seldom define what they mean by "whoredom" it can be difficult to figure out if the women in question were truly prostitutes women whose services were generally available to all and sundry in exchange for a fee or just a bit licentious akin to Chaucer's Wife of Bath.
Contributing further to the confusion in England, at least, is that for most women in the trade, prostitution was not their sole occupation. When a woman's normal occupation didn't bring in enough money, she might turn to prostitution in order to make up the difference. Therefore, prostitution may have even been, for many women, a cyclical income source undertaken during whatever was the "off" season for their regular occupations Karras, Hildegard was a twelfth-century Benedictine nun who not only established herself as a notable mystic and prophet but also as a writer, scientist, composer, and linguist.
She was very prolific during her lifetime, writing not only on health and medicine, but also recording religious visions complete with detailed descriptions for illuminators , composing hymns, and creating her own language known as the Ignota Lingua. Her immense talent gained her enough respect in her own time that her sometimes unorthodox and disobedient behavior never garnered any sort of permanent punishment excepting, possibly, a refusal by the Catholic church to canonize her.
A notable episode occurred near the end of her life, when Hildegard and her monastery were placed under interdict for allowing the Christian burial of an excommunicate. Despite the interdict — which stated that no music was to be used in the monastery's worship services, a true hardship for an abbess who believed music and text to be inseparable companions — Hildegard defied orders to exhume and relocate the body, maintaining that the man had confessed and been absolved before his death. She even went so far as to reproach the bishop of Mainz for greed and un-Christian behavior.
Eventually her superiors gave in and lifted the interdict, and Hildegard's beloved music was restored Gladden, Eleanor was one of the more unusual queens in English history. She began her public life as the Queen of Louis VII of France, but their marriage was an unhappy one that produced only two daughters. Very soon after obtaining an annulment of the marriage, Eleanor married Henry, the young Duke of Normandy and heir to the English throne.
Between the two of them, they controlled a much greater portion of France than did Louis himself, a fact that caused much strife between them and Louis. As Queen of England, Eleanor was quite prolific in the most important way: she provided Henry with a total of five male heirs, four of whom Henry the Young King, Richard, Geoffrey, and John lived to adulthood, and two of whom Richard [I] and John ruled England.
She herself outlived not only her younger husband, but also all her sons excepting John. She was strong-willed, and refused to see her husband as anything other than an equal, going so far as to join three of their four sons in rebellion against Henry in Henry imprisoned her for sixteen years because of this act, and she wasn't released until after his death in Despite this long imprisonment, she had lost none of her ability to lead, and when her son Richard, now king, went on crusade, he left Eleanor in control of all England.
In addition to being one of the most politically powerful women of her time and place, Eleanor was also an important figure in the burgeoning literary and artistic movement of courtly love. Due to her beauty and high station, Eleanor herself often served as a focal point and subject of courtly love poetry, and poems addressed specifically to her usually as "England's queen" or "the Norman queen" were written not only in her native France but in Germany as well. A well-known troubadour, Bernart de Ventadorn , actually served in Eleanor's court for a time, and his biographer claims that the two developed a deep and abiding love for each other during this time, which was consummated in the best courtly love fashion.
Although historians cannot establish the accuracy of this claim, it has become part and parcel of the legend and rumor surrounding Eleanor's life. If all the world were mine From sea's shore to the Rhine, [ read more ]. At the sweet song which the nightingale makes at night when I have fallen asleep, I wake completely bewildered with joy, [ read more ].
VI, p. The maternal system of descent is found in all parts of the world where social advance stands at a certain level, and the evidence warrants the assumption that every group which advances to a culture state passes through this stage. They live in scattered bands, held together loosely by convenience, safety, and inertia, and the male is the leader, but the leadership of the male in this case, as among animals, is very different from the organized and institutional expression of the male force in systems of political control growing out of achievement. Among the Padang Malays the child always belongs to its mother's suku, and all blood-relationship is reckoned through the wife as the real transmitter of the family, the husband being only a stranger. In many regions of Australia women are treated with extreme brutality, when their work is not satisfactory, or the husband has any other cause of offense. In the process of coming into control of a larger environment through the motor activities of the male, the group comes into collision with other groups within which the same movement is going on, and it then becomes a question which group can apply force more destructively and remove or bring under control this human portion of its environment. This involves a social history through which these low tribes have not passed.
Christine, like Hildegard, was a well-known scholar. However, unlike Hildegard, Christine operated in the secular world and did not enter the cloister until the end of her life. She was well regarded by powerful members of the French aristocracy, and her work was known and presented not only to the aristocracy but even to the French rulers.
Illuminations in manuscripts of Christine's work often portray such presentations, and therefore we know that she presented work not only to Queen Isabeau, wife of Charles VI, but also to the king himself. In particular, she writes against the Roman de la Rose , which, despite its allegorical setting and its narrator's love of the female figure of the Rose, contains numerous incredibly misogynistic statements. Christine's angry reaction to the work provoked a heated discussion that was often less than polite in Parisian literary circles. Christine, despite the derision directed at the "ignorant" and "inferior" woman, acquitted herself well, and was only inspired to write more pro-woman texts.
Despite the weight given to her proto-feminist prose texts in current studies of Christine's work, these were not the only or, some might argue, the best examples of Christine's writings. She was also a talented poet who produced many poems, both short and long.
Her poetry not only demonstrates her talent as a poet but also reminds readers that Christine had a life outside of her writing. At age fifteen, she was married to a well-educated man named Etienne du Castel. Despite the disparity in their ages Etienne was about twenty-five at the time , the marriage appears to have been a loving one that produced three surviving children during its ten-year duration.
However, around , Etienne died suddenly, and Christine was left alone to care for their three children, a niece, and her mother, who had been widowed in Poems such as "Like the Mourning Dove" and "I am a Widow Lone" seem to be personal expressions of grief, lamenting the beloved husband who was so suddenly taken from her.
Following the practice that has become the habit of my life, namely the devoted study of literature,. Reverence, honor, and all commendation to you, lord provost of Lille, most precious lord and scholar, sage in conduct, lover of knowledge,. Her divine revelations led her to become first a mystic figure and then a military leader whose victories allowed Charles VII to re-take his throne and lands. After her claim to be divinely inspired was believed by Robert de Baudricourt the governor of Valcouleurs and a loyal follower of Charles VII , she permanently adopted male dress.
Only once after this point did she again don traditional women's clothing. Joan's mission as a divinely inspired commander began well, and she was able to lift the siege of Orleans and to clear a path into Reims so that Charles could be properly crowned and anointed. Soon after Charles' coronation, however, her luck ran out, and she was eventually taken prisoner by the Burgundians, who handed her over to the English.
Though she was certain that she would either be ransomed by the king or saved by divine power, neither king nor God intervened and Joan was subjected to a lengthy church trial which ended with her death by fire. Her holy character, which had been seriously called into question during her trial, was reaffirmed before the crowd gathered for her execution, as she did not scream or cry out as she burned, but instead quietly prayed to Jesus, Mary, and the saints.
Each book that is listed is followed by its Library of Congress system call number in case you would like to learn more about the topic. Andreas Capellanus. The Art of Courtly Love. John Jay Parry. New York: F. Ungar Publishing Company, A58 ].
Ronnie Apter. Studies in Medieval Literature B4 A ]. Carmen Caballero-Navas. London: Kegan Paul, B ]. Christine de Pizan. The Book of the City of Ladies. Earl Jeffrey Richards. New York: Persea Books, L56 E5 ]. The Writings of Christine de Pizan. Charity Cannon Willard. A27 ]. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend.
Oxford: Blackwell, C6 O95 ]. John Y. Westport, CT: Praeger, T ]. Gladden, Samuel Lyndon. Bonnie Wheeler. Feminea Medievalia 1. In view of his superior power of. It is not a difficult, conclusion that, if woman's leaping, lifting, running, climbing, and slugging capacity are inferior to man's, by however slight a margin, her fighting capacity is less in the same degree, for battle is only an application of force, and there has never been a moment in the history of society when the law of might, tempered by sexual affinity, did not prevail. We must, then, in fact, recognize a sharp distinction between the law of descent and the fact of authority.
The male was everywhere present in primitive society, and everywhere made his force felt. We can see this illustrated most plainly in the animal group, where the male is the leader, by virtue of his strength. There is also a stage of human society which may be called the prematriarchal stage, from the fact that ideas of kinship are so feeble that no extensive social filiation is effected through this principle, in consequence of which the group has not reached the tribal stage of organization on the basis of kinship, but remains in the primitive biological relation of male, female, and offspring.
The Botocudos, Fuegians, Eskimos, West Australians, Bushmen, and Veddahs represent this primitive stage more or less-completely; they have apparently not reached the stage where the fact of kinship expresses itself in maternal organization. They live in scattered bands, held together loosely by convenience, safety, and inertia, and the male is the leader, but the leadership of the male in this case, as among animals, is very different from the organized and institutional expression of the male force in systems of political control growing out of achievement.
This involves a social history through which these low tribes have not passed. Organization can not proceed very far in the absence of social mass, and the collection of social mass took place unconsciously about the female as a universal preliminary of the conscious synthetization of the mass through males. From the side of organization, the negative accretion of population about female centers and filiation through blood is very.
But in the prematernal stage, in the maternal stage, and in the patriarchal stage the male force was present and was the carrier of the social will. In the fully maternal system, indeed, the male authority is only thinly veiled, or not at all. Filiation through female descent precedes filiation through achievement, because it is a function of somatic conditions, in the main, while filiation through achievement is a function of historical conditions.
This advantage of maternal organization in point of time embarrasses and obscures the individual and collective expression of the male force, but under the veil of female nomenclature and in the midst of the female organization we can always detect the presence of the male authority. Bachofen's conception of the maternal system as a political system was erroneous, as Dargun and others have pointed out,  though woman has been reinforced by the fact of descent, and has so figured somewhat in political systems.
A most instructive example of. Major Powell gives the following outline of the civil and military government of this tribe:. The civil government inheres in a system of councils and chiefs. In each yens there is a council, composed of four women, called Yu-wai-yu-wa-na. These four women councilors select a chief of the yens from its male members --that is, from their brothers and sons. This gentile chief is the head of the gentile council. The council of the tribe is composed of the aggregated gentile councils.
The tribal council, therefore, is composed one-fifth of men and four-fifths of women. The sachem of the tribe, or tribal chief, is chosen by the chiefs of the gentes. There is sometimes a grand council of the gens, composed of the councilors of the yens proper and all the heads of households women and leading men -- brothers and sons. There is also a grand council of the tribe, composed of the council of the tribe proper and the heads of households of the tribe, and all the leading men of the tribe. The four women councilors of the yens are chosen by the heads of households, themselves being women.
There is no formal election, but frequent discussion is had over the matter from time to time, in which a sentiment grows up within the yens and throughout the tribe that, in the event of the death of any councilor, a certain person will take her place. In this manner there is usually one, two, or more potential councilors in each gens, who are expected to attend all the meetings of the council, though they take no part in the deliberations and have no vote.
When a woman is installed as a councilor, a feast is prepared by the yens to which she belongs, and to this feast all the members of the tribe are invited. The woman is painted and dressed in her best attire, and the sachem of the tribe places upon her head the gentile chaplet of feathers, and announces in a formal manner to the assembled guests that the woman has been chosen a councilor The gentile chief is chosen by the council women after consultation with the other women and men of the gens.
Often the gentile chief is a potential chief through a period of probation. During this time he attends the meetings of the council, but takes no part in the deliberations and has no vote.
At his installation, the council women invest him with an elaborately ornamented tunic, place upon his head a chaplet of feathers, and paint the gentile totem upon his face The sachem of the tribe is selected by the men belonging to the council of the tribe.
The management of military affairs inheres in the military council and chief. The military council is composed of all the able-bodied men of the tribe; the military chief is chosen by the council from the Porcupine gens. Each gentile chief is responsible for the military training of the youth under his authority. There are usually one or more potential military chiefs, who are the close companions and assistants of the chief in time of war and, in case of the death of the chief, take his place in the order of seniority. In this tribe the numerical recognition of women is striking, and indicates that they are the original core of society.
They are still responsible for society, in a way, but all the offices involving motor activity are deputed to men. Thus women as heads of households choose four women councilors of the clan gens , and these choose the fifth member, who is a man and the head of the council and chief of the clan. The tribal chief is, however, chosen by males, and in the military organization, which represents the group capacity for violence, the women have not even a nominal recognition.
The real authority rests.
Female influence persists as a matter of habit, until, under the pressure of social, particularly of military, activities, the breaking up of the habit and a new accommodation follow the accumulation of a larger fund of social energy. The men of any group are at any time in possession of the force to change the habits of the group and push aside any existing system. But the savage is not revolutionary; his life and his social sanctions are habitual. He is averse to change as such, and retains form and rite after their meaning is lost. We consequently find an expression of social respect for woman under the maternal system suggestive of chivalry, and even a formal elevation of women to authority in groups where the actual control is in the hands of men.
In the Mariana islands the position of woman was distinctly superior; even when the man had contributed an equal share of property on marriage, the wife dictated everything and the man could undertake nothing without her approval; but, if the woman committed an offense, the man was held responsible and suffered the punishment. The women could speak in the assembly they held property, and if a woman asked anything of a man, he gave it up without a murmur.
If a wife was unfaithful, the husband could send her home, keep her property, and kill the adulterer; but if the man was guilty or even suspected of the same offense, the women of the neighborhood destroyed his house and all his visible property, and the owner was fortunate if he escaped with a whole skin; and if a wife was not pleased with her husband, she withdrew, and a similar attack followed.
On this account many men were not married, preferring to live with paid women. Likewise, in the Gilbert islands a man shows the same respect to a woman as to a chief, by stepping aside when he meets her. If a man strikes a woman, the other women drive him from the tribe. On Lukunor the men used, in conversation with women, not the usual, but a deferential form of language.
But, in contrast with the survival in political systems of the primitive respect shown mothers, we find the assertion of individual male force within the very bosom of the maternal organization, in the person of the husband, brother, or uncle of the woman. Among the Caribs " the father or head of the household exerts unlimited authority over his wives and children, but this authority is not founded on legal rights, but upon his physical superiority.
Schoolcraft says of the Kenistenos: "When a young man marries, he immediately goes to live with the father and mother of his wife, who treat him, nevertheless, as an entire stranger till after the birth of his first child. Such severity proceeds, perhaps, less from rigidity of virtue than from its having been practiced without his permission; for a temporary interchange of wives is not uncommon, and the offer of their persons is considered as a necessary part of the hospitality due to strangers. So long as his relation with his wives continues, he is master of them and of their children.
He can even sell the latter into slavery. In many regions of Australia women are treated with extreme brutality, when their work is not satisfactory, or the husband has any other cause of offense. In Victoria the men often break heir staves over the heads of the women, and skulls of women have been found in which knitted fractures indicated former ill-treatment. In Cape York the women are beaten, and in the interior an angry native burned his wife alive. In the Adelaide dialect the phrase " owner of a woman" means husband.
When a man dies, his uterine brother inherits his wife and children. Where under an exogamous system of marriage a man is forced to go outside his group to obtain a wife, he may do this either by going over to her group, by taking possession of her violently, or by offering her and the members of her group sufficient inducements to relinquish her; and the contrasted male and female disposition is expressed in all the forms of marriage incident to the exogamous system.
Every exogamous group is naturally reluctant to relinquish its women, both because. Where the husband is to settle in the family of the wife, a test is consequently often made of his ability as a provider. Among the Zuni Indians there is no purchase price, no general exchange of gifts; but as soon as the agreement is reached, the young man must undertake certain duties:. He must work in the field of his prospective mother-in-law, that his strength and industry may be tested; he must collect fuel and deposit it near the maternal domicile, that his disposition as a provider may be made known; he must chase and slay the deer, and make from an entire buckskin a pair of moccasins for the bride, and from other skins and textiles a complete feminine suit, to the end that his skill in hunting, skin- dressing, dressing, and weaving may be displayed; and, finally, he must fabricate or obtain for the maiden's use a necklace of seashell or of silver, in order that his capacity for long journeys or successful barter may be established; but if circumstances prevent him from performing these duties actually, he may perform them symbolically, and such performance is usually acceptable to the elder people.
After these preliminaries are completed, he is formally adopted by his wife's parents, yet remains merely a perpetual guest, subject to dislodgment at his wife's behest, though he cannot legally withdraw from the covenant; if dissatisfied, he can only so ill-treat his wife or children as to compel his expulsion.
This practice is seen in a symbolical form where presents are required of the suitor before marriage and their equivalent returned later. By depositing goods accumulated through his activities he demonstrates his ability as a provider, without undergoing a formal test. This practice is reported of the Indians of Oregon:. The suitor never, in person, asks the parents for their daughter; hut he sends one or more friends, whom he pays for their services.
The latter sometimes effect their purposes by feasts. The offer generally includes a statement of the property which will be given for the wife to the parents, consisting of horses, blankets, or buffalo robes. The wife's relations at ays raise as many horses or other property for her dower as the bridegroom has sent.
In Patagonia the usual custom is for the bridegroom, after he has secured the consent of his damsel, to send either a brother or some intimate friend to the parents, offering so many mares, horses, or silver ornaments for the bride. If the parents consider the match desirable, as soon after as circumstances will permit, the bridegroom, dressed in his best, and mounted on his best horse, proceeds to the toldo of his intended, and hands over the gifts; the parents then return gifts of equivalent value, which, however, in the event of a separation are the property of the bride. Marriage by capture is an immediate expression of male force.
This form of obtaining a wife has been very widespread, and, like marriage by settlement in the house of the wife, is an expedient for obtaining a wife outside the group where marriage by purchase is not developed, or where the suitor cannot offer property for the bride. It is an unsocial procedure and does not persist in a growing society, for it involves retaliation and blood feud. But it is a desperate means of avoiding the constraint and embarrassment of a residence in the family and among the relatives of the wife, where the power of the husband is hindered, and the male disposition is not satisfied in this matter short of personal ownership.
The man also sometimes lives under the maternal system in regular marriage, but escapes its disadvantages by stealing a supplementary wife or purchasing a slave woman, over whom and whose children he has full authority. In the Babar archipelago, where the maternal system persists even in the presence of marriage by purchase, and the man lives in the house of the woman, and the children are reckoned with the mother, it is considered highly honorable to steal an additional wife from another group, and in this case the children belong to the father.
To the same effect, among the Wanyamwesi, south of the Victoria Nyanza, the children of a slave wife inherit, to the exclusion of children born of legal wife. And husbands among the Fellatahs are in the habit of adopting children, though they may have sons or daughters of their own, and the adopted children inherit the property. But he may later carry her forcibly to his own group, and the children then belong to him. Bosman relates that in Guinea religious symbolism was also introduced by the husband to reinforce and lend dignity to this action.
This is likely due to the additional stigma placed on gay men, which stems from the historical policing of male homosexuality.
More men report psychosexual disturbance — a sense of confusion about their same sex attraction. Again this may be possibly due to the cultural stigma about gay men which either causes heterosexual-identified men to experience anxiety about same-sex attraction, or perhaps they are reticent to act out on their same-sex desire. Male-to-male sex is less visible; it occupies a separate space in the sex industry, and gay relationships are largely de-sexualised in popular culture.
Amongst men who identify as heterosexual, Almost three times as many heterosexual women have experienced attraction towards women that they had not acted upon 6. Heterosexual people who are tertiary educated and working in white collar or professional jobs are most likely to have had a same-sex experience. Higher education lends itself to greater tolerance for experimentation and access to diverse experiences not withstanding prevailing prejudice and homophobia.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this means dealing with exclusion and racism as well as homophobia. They have had sex before, but perhaps never; they may be in romantic relationships or in aromantic relationships with people of various genders, but not have sex. One commonality is that asexual people are often met with confusion or rejection when they come out to their families and friends. People misunderstand how people could reject sex altogether.
It is tempting to describe these as examples of either homosexuality or transgenderism, but I note that cultural and historical context matters. For example, in my analysis of Two Spirit practices amongst Navajo groups, I noted that social scientists have used this tradition as an example of transgender experience, but some Native American scholars dispute this position. While some Native American activist groups are embracing the Two Spirit label, they do so with stronger respect for this as a spiritual position, rather than simply as a sexual identity.
It is important to be careful when discussing the sexual and cultural practices of Others given the history of violence amongst colonised and minority groups. For these groups, gender identity is also about spirituality and connection to culture and Country. Most of the documented examples of non-binary practices of sexuality involve high-status men. Undocumented examples may reveal other patterns, as I briefly show. Still, note that power, gender and class underscore these historical examples.
It involves an adult male initiating a sexual relationship with an adolescent boy, but these relationships were not always constructed as romantic in the sense that Western cultures see this word today. Many people know these relationships were found amongst the upper classes of Ancient Greeks and Romans; perhaps most famously are the Spartans. Some Ancient Celtic groups also engaged in this practice, as did Ancient Persians, and in some cases this might involve castrating young boys.
The Nanshoku were a class of Buddhist monks who were allowed to take young monks-in-training as lovers in a relationship that was considered serious and binding until the young boy grew up or left their training at the monastery. These practices were eventually eradicated as more women emigrated into the cities and because the government clamped down on male sex workers. They entered into a monogamous male relationship, though they were both free to continue having sex with women. Love, trust, mutual appreciation and sacrifice underscored these bonds.
This practice is meant to cement loyalty between men who fought alongside one another. Young boys and girls live with their mothers separated from the men. At around age six to ten, boys are taken to live with the men. Ingesting semen is seen as a way to strengthen their masculinity and purify them from their feminine influences.
Younger boys fellate older boys who are in their mid-to-late teens, and as they grow up, they become the fellated. Once they reach marriage age and have children, sexual contact between men and boys is prohibited. Other than the Two Spirit tradition amongst some Native American cultures, there are few well-documented examples of societies allowing classes of women to engage in same-sex or bisexual behaviours. Yet these cases are generally not socially sanctioned, ritualised or institutionalised to the same extent as same-sex relationships that have been allowed for elite men.
This is an outcome of most societies being patriarchal, and conferring special rights and privileges to men over women. Adrienne Rich documented this historical pattern using the idea of compulsory heterosexuality , which has been forced upon women for much of history, in many though certainly not all cultures.
This shows how much culture shapes sexuality. The map below illustrates more cultures that similarly recognise gender roles beyond male-female and sexual orientations beyond heterosexuality click to enlarge. All of this Straight, Bi, Gay.