Back in February, the month where many people end up abandoning their New Year’s resolutions, I made a point of reassessing mine.
I did this to examine my progress to date, in order to adjust course as necessary, and better plan for success.
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.
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.
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.
(Continued from Part 1)
Another important inconsistency was that even though sex was considered a requirement between spouses, this didn’t mean just any sexual act was acceptable.
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).
I’ve always found this perspective unduly negative and deterministic. Yes, many people may suffer setbacks in their yearly goals during February. Yet it’s also widely agreed that “If at first you don’t succeed…” is a valid approach to life.