A few weeks ago I gave a talk for the London Science Museum Lates on medieval sexuality and the ways in which cities responded to what were considered the competing needs for sex and a harmonious Christian landscape.
Included: swearing, manuscript pictures of penises, and a lot of talk about sex work.
If, like me, your primary form of entertainment is reading the news, becoming angry, yelling, and then drinking to try to forget about what you just read, you may be aware of the stupid offensive bullshit that Mike ‘If I’m in another room with a woman alone I might rape her, IDK’ Pence tweeted for Holocaust Memorial Day. If you have somehow escaped this and are blithely unaware, I am sorry to do this to you. Behold:
This right here, is a veritable parfait of wrong in that there is just layer upon layer of inappropriate, with a bonus cherry of apocalyptic Christianity on top. So, let’s talk about this.
Eagled-eyed readers (LOL) will note that every single thing this man has just said about the Jewish victims of the holocaust is set out here in Christian imagery. (There is a separate conversation to be had here about how this tweet also ignores the Romani, gay, and disabled victims of the Holocaust, of course. I am trying to cut down on my rage posting by just focusing on the largest and most glaring parts of the evil that is spewed by this administration, right now though. I’m tired, OK?)
Presumably, there will come a time when we will no longer need think pieces on how courtly love as a construct has poisoned romantic and sexual interactions – especially straight ones. Unfortunately, today is not that day, and we have learned once again, and to our sorrow, that our favs are problematic and our idols must be sacrificed. So, we’re gonna talk about it.
I am here to tell you that any time you hear about men being super pushy about sexual advances and not taking no for an answer, you can pretty much trace the enshrinement of said behaviour back to the OG problematic bin-fire, Andreas Capellanus.
Christmas, amiright? It is A Thing. And every year it seems to creep a bit further into autumn as capitalism demands larger and larger blood sacrifices in order to slake its consumerist thirst. Tra la la.
Now, some people really really dig Christmas, some not so much, and some are just deeply ambivalent and stoked to get some time off. All of this is good and fine and you should be able to do you.
I have found through extensive research (i.e. living) that a lot of people sort of struggle with the Christmas thing because you have said GIANT BUILD UP, where everyone you know insists that you ‘get together before Christmas!’ Also, you need to buy a Christmas jumper to wear to the office do! Also, have you sent out Christmas cards? Also, Christmas is the most meaningful day of the year and you should be spending it with your family and if it isn’t magical, then maybe you don’t actually love them?
Ever since Constantine the Great converted to Christianity, it has not been possible to simultaneously be both a Westerner and view Jerusalem as simply a city. Part of this, obviously, has to do with the fact that some of the more memorable parts of the life of Jesus took place in Jerusalem.* The other thing is that Jerusalem is absolutely integral to the Christian idea of the Apocalypse.
Now as a sane, happy (I hope, anyway. I believe in you.) person, you may not quite get why we should give any fucks about the Apocalypse. Why worry about the end of the universe? Why does that come into play at all in the day to day life of your average Christian? These are good relevant points that we must cling to in order to continue to fight off overwhelming feelings of dread in the nightmarish hellscape that is the current political landscape.
Trouble is, Christianity as a religion is obsessed with the apocalypse.
My loves, we are now, as ever, surrounded by basics and their whack-ass understanding of medieval history. As a Lady Historian™ I am often subjected to tirades from Nice Guys lamenting how I, a lady, am breathing in public, but how they a Nice Guy are going to be chill about it because they ‘still believe in chivalry’.
That is not what chivalry is.
Now, I don’t even mean not believing an expert in a subject because of Dunning Kreuger isn’t exactly polite, when I say ‘that is not what chivalry is’. What I mean is that chivalry really isn’t about treating the ladies right (or whatever the fuck passes for right in your mind when you are out here actively harassing women who are smarter than you, which is to say all of them.)
Because I have watched the Lemon video roughly three trillion times in the past week, I have also been doing a lot of thinking about how society defines what the ideal form for women is. Obviously, there is no one type of femme body that everyone who is attracted to women will agree upon. (Except maybe Amber Rose. Fight me.) However, there is an overall tendency of late which holds up the hourglass, in various degrees of extremis, over all other forms. The hourglass can roughly be described as an exaggerated waist to hip ratio, with roughly analogous breasts.
Submitted for your approval are these various examples:
Now, these women are Exceptionally Hot™, a fact which my in-depth historical training has allowed me to confirm. That most of us reading this blog will agree with my extremely professional view on this makes it easy to assume that interest in ladies sporting an hourglass has always been a feature of human sexual drive.
So because it is 2017, we are currently living through a cruel time in which people are attempting to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This, in and of itself is problematic as hell, because it feeds into the idea that the study of history is a study of Great Men™ who came along in a manly way and moved the world forward. That ain’t the case. History is really more of a study of a number of trends. It’s looking at a million pieces of day-to-day writing and interpreting them in their context. Sure, dudes came along who – given this context – were able to influence society. However, society as a whole was not a blank slate, just waiting for some guy to come swing his dick around in order to change course.
This approach also massively privileges not just dudes, but *specifically* white dudes from Western Europe. Not because they necessarily achieved more than dudes from other parts of the world (AHEM – Alexander the Great v. Genghis Khan), BUT because the West has dominated the political sphere since the age of colonialism and therefore privileges its own history above the history of other places.
A part of this is a collective social tendency to privilege one’s one society because one is a part of it. We can’t escape culture, even if we can critique it. Another part of this is that historians are basic too, and don’t want to learn the other languages that it takes in order to do the work to study certain things.
The lionisation of Martin Luther and Reformation is a perfect example of how major social and religious movements get lost in the Great Men narrative in order to allow for ease of research.