The previous Medieval Mondays post on sex discussed perceptions of women’s sexuality in the Middle Ages.
It covered historical notions of women as “misbegotten” lesser humans, as helplessly insatiable and promiscuous, and as ever in danger of being considered unmarriageable and “spoiled goods” if subject to even the hint of impropriety.
TV sitcom Home Improvement characters Al (left) and Tim (right)
In a previous post, I shared thoughts I’ve had about my novel being critiqued by my critique group.
One post is nowhere near enough words to cover my insights on this process, which is still in progress.
One particular insight has taken me all the way back to the 1990s.
Medieval perception of women’s sexuality
The first two Medieval Mondays posts on sex focused on proper sexual conduct as dictated by the Church.
But no discussion about sex, be it in a historical or a modern context, can be deemed complete without a parallel discussion about the societal perception of women as sexual beings, as well as their sexual agency, or lack thereof.
The two topics are intrinsically linked.
Fourth (left) and partial sixth (right) drafts of my WIP
It’s the worst feeling in the world.
But of course that’s not the end at all. Indeed, the realization of how wretched having your work critiqued can be is only just the beginning of a new stage of your writing journey.
Three years ago, I decided that writing a research essay on some aspect of medieval history once a month would be a good idea.
To be clear, it was a good idea. Although I’d already written the first draft of the first book of my historical fiction trilogy in 2006, I went on a six year writing hiatus after that, during which time I’d convinced myself I was giving up writing forever.
Previously I blogged about my efforts in coming up with fictional surnames for the characters in my historical fiction WIP.
These names had to be Anglo-Norman in origin, and involved me increasing my French vocabulary, researching Norman toponymy, and a ton of trial and error to create nice-looking names.
Previously, I answered a question from my good friend, Lydia. But there was a second question that she put before me:
How do you come up with interesting character names in your work?
(Continued from Part 1)
The previous post on sex in the Middle Ages discussed its various contradictions as espoused by the medieval Church.
Another important inconsistency was that even though sex was considered a requirement between spouses, this didn’t mean just any sexual act was acceptable.
(Continued from Part 1)
I’ve previously blogged about my efforts in forming a critique group.
More specifically, that post was about all the things I demanded of prospective members in order to prove their interest, commitment, and ability to do the necessary work of critiquing.
Sex and sexual relationships in the Middle Ages, much like during any age, were fraught with contradictions.
Most of these contradictions stemmed from the involvement of the medieval Church in dictating proper sexual conduct. In turn, according to Marty Williams and Anne Echols, authors of Between Pit and Pedestal: Women in the Middle Ages, the Church’s involvement was owing to the fact that,
Many theologians were completely unable to reconcile sex and the sacred because sex was viewed as something unholy and unclean (p. 86).