I honestly always find the term ‘spinster’ as referring to an elderly, never-married woman as funny because you know what?
Wool was a huge industry in Europe in the middle ages. It was hugely in demand, particularly broadcloth, and was a valuable trade good. A great deal of wool was owned by monasteries and landed gentry who owned the land.
And, well, the only way to spin wool into yarn to make broadcloth was by hand.
This was viewed as a feminine occupation, and below the dignity of the monks and male gentry that largely ran the trade.
So what did they do?
They hired women to spin it. And, turns out, this was a stable job that paid very well. Well enough that it was one of the few viable economic options considered ‘respectable’ outside of marriage for a woman. A spinster could earn quite a tidy salary for her art, and maintain full control over her own money, no husband required.
So, naturally, women who had little interest in marriage or men? Grabbed this opportunity with both hands and ran with it. Of course, most people didn’t get this, because All Women Want Is Husbands, Right?
So when people say ‘spinster’ as in ‘spinster aunt’, they are TRYING to conjure up an image of a little old lady who is lonely and bitter.
But what I HEAR are the smiles and laughter of a million women as they earned their own money in their own homes and controlled their own fortunes and lived life on their own terms, and damn what society expected of them.
I hope this a shit post cause that’s not even close to being true.
I would be very interested to see your sources.
But first, mine
http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199270606.001.0001/acprof-9780199270606 (You’d have to read the book itself (I own a copy) but here’s a link to it.)
“Women in medieval English society”, Mavis E. Mate (https://books.google.com/books?id=YUVXsG5CaywC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=medieval+spinster+independent&source=bl&ots=Vmxe4vjXJ4&sig=Ej-Z3q9KwBnWi0VMeBb4l5NTqSQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj3_PGXutjaAhVS3WMKHb2uA5M4ChDoAQhBMAg#v=onepage&q=medieval%20spinster%20independent&f=false
Please. I am very curious as to why you think I am incorrect.
cunk on britain 1×01
The Minneapolis Star, Minnesota, August 27, 1947
Fun fact: That is made with real indigo grown on a farm.
The heat index real indigo can take is up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why it was used for centuries.
Another fun fact: Japanese firefighters were hardcore and very proud of their job and abilities. If anyone is interested, I can dig out some amazing images.
Okay guys, so here it is: History lesson about the firemen in Edo, Japan. (Because I need to impart some knowledge before I get to the fun part.)
Edo (now Tokyo) in the 17th century had some massive problems. The city had only become the official capital in 1603. Before the 16th century, it had been an inconsequental fishing town. After becoming the capital, the city boomed and population more or less exploded.
The numbers I could find are the following:
- 1640: 400′000 residents
- 1693: 800′000 residents
- 1721: 1′100′000 residents
All in all, Edo became a massive, sprawling city in a very short amount of time. All kinds of people came to Edo, from poor women that were literally sold into prostiution by their parents to the leaders of the country.
The rapid population growth wasn’t the only problem the city faced, however. Some other factors include:
- Building material: Most houses were built almost entirely out of wood, which, surprise, burns easily.
- Building structures: Houses were often built in rows, with narrow streets in between, perfect for the quick spread of fire
- Weather: Constant strong winds, especially in the winter and in spring, helped along with that, too
- Arson: Yes, people literally set fires in the hope that they would manage to loot something valuable in the process. These people were often from the lower strata of society, showing that not all was well in Edo. (In short: being poor sucks massively.) Sometime merchants just wanted to destroy their rival’s business, though. Burn that fucker to the ground, or something like that.
Due to these factors, the city experienced 49 large fires between 1601 and 1867, and over a thousand smaller fires. Which means there were approximately 7 smaller fires a year, as well as one massive fire every five years… not great odds if you just wanna do your thing in the big city. The largest fire in 1657 killed around 100′000 people, which was, if you look at the numbers up there, probably around a quarter of the population.
While the shogun quickly commanded the creation of a firefighting force to prevent the burning of his buildings, he was less concerned about the rest of the city. It took until the 18th century (I think somewhere in the 1720s) until he finally ordered the creation of a city-wide firefighting force that protected people from fires and put them out.
In short, because of the frequency of the fires, this was a massively important job.
(Above: Fireman in gear. Take note of the fire hook. These hooks were standard gear for any firefighter, and usually used to destroy buildings to prevent the spread of a fire.)
(Above: Firemen at work. The lanterns and the matoi they are carrying are symbols to identify the “department”.)
And I don’t know, but it seems like an universal rule that important people like to show off, or maybe it’s just a side-effect of running into rapidly-spreading fires, but at some point, they started the tradition of “ladder climbing.” It’s now part of a yearly ceremony that takes place just after new years, but the exact origin of this tradition is unclear.
(Above: We have no time for your foolish safety measures. Get on our level. Hahahaha.)
Anyway, what they do every year in this ceremony is this:
One or more dudes climb a straight ladder that’s only secured with the fire hooks of their colleagues on the ground (you can see them do that in the image), and on top of that ladder they perform various acrobatic feats to show off their awesome firefighting skills (not really). Now if you say this is obviously a print and does not depict reality at all, let me direct you towards some newer technology:
And the tradition lives on until today:
(Above: You can also clearly see this goddamn ladder is not secured at all, other than with the fire hooks. You can only hope none of your colleagues are planning to murder you.)
And if you want to see the entire thing in movement:
In this video, you can see some very nice close-ups of the ladder and the way it’s being secured by the fire hooks. The best stunts come towards the end. Here you can see three dudes on the ladder, and here’s a video of a woman doing the stunts.
Honestly, I could go on enternally, but there you go. The badass firefighters of ye olde Japan.
TIL the Han Dynasty was founded by a sheriff who was transporting convicts when several escaped. Knowing the punishment for this was death, he freed the rest and organized many into a rebel band, eventually going on to help overthrow the ruling Qin Dynasty and install himself as Emperor.
Talk about rolling with it
You ever fuck up so bad you overthrow a Chinese emperor?
You ever fuck up so bad you become a Chinese emperor?
If the lessons of history teach us any one thing, it is that no one learns the lessons history teaches.
I just heard of Ida B. Wells today. Why hadn’t I heard of her before?
The above is from a movie titled Iron Jawed Angels.
Oh, for context, America’s parties were pretty much reversed then from what they are now. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
Ida B. Wells was an African American who achieved national and international fame as a journalist, public speaker, and community activist. In 1892, Ida began a crusade that would prove to be her main life’s work. Through her writing and her speaking engagements, she carried out a national campaign against the unacceptable practice lynching—the burning, hanging, or shooting of a personal without a trial. Her passion and determination to inform the public put her into great danger, but she wanted to battle the lynchers and the people who didn’t care; she wouldn’t rest until she knew the truth. She uncovered the truth of lynching and impacted our history as well as journalism. Why were her writings so powerful and what truth did they uncover?
When she found out three of her friends were killed she decided that it was her job as a newspaper to inform the public of what was going on. Shortly after the murders Ida took action and wrote an article about why Memphis is not a safe place to live.
“The city of Memphis has demonstrated that neither character nor standing avails the Negro if he dares to protect himself against the white man or become his rival. There is nothing we can do about the lynching now, as we are outnumbered and without arms. The white mob could help itself to ammunition, but the order was rigidly enforced against the selling of guns to Negroes. There is therefore only one thing left that we can do: Save our money and leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons.” (5/ pg.44)
Did people listen to her? Yes, blacks decided to leave Memphis; whether they took a train, walked, or reveled by wagons. The blacks who stayed behind stood up for themselves by saying no to working for white families or shopping at white grocery stores. She traveled to Oklahoma and wrote letters to the Free Speech describing Oklahoma as “the land of opportunity.“ Blacks began to travel there shortly after her publication.
Ida decided to research lynching and the past affects it has in society as opposed to the current. She then began to research individual cases to learn about the people who were involved. She ended up publishing her findings even though these articles could put her in danger. Her writing was not only powerful, but it was personal and relevant to her audience.
Wells decided having a gun would be a good idea because of the content she has been writing about. She wrote:
"Eight Negroes lynched since the last issue of the Free Speech… five on the same old racket—the alarm about raping white women. The program of hanging, then shooting bullets into the lifeless bodies was carried out to the letter. Nobody in this section of the country believes the old threadbare lie that Negro men rape white women. If southern white men are not careful, they will overreach themselves and … a conclusion will be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women.” (5/ pg.53)
What Ida wrote above is very powerful. She says that black men and white woman sometimes fall in love and what whites called rape was actually two people who loved one another.
This editorial above was published on Saturday, May 21, 1892.
Before this was published Ida left to Philadelphia to attend a convention of the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and then visited New York City as a guest of T. Thomas Fortune, the editor of the New York Age.
While Ida was gone the citizens of Memphis became angry. Other media began to speak of Ida badly. The Memphis Daily Commercial called her a “black scandal” and implied that she was “allowed to live as evidence as to the wonderful patience of southern whites. But we have had enough of it.” They the said that whoever wrote this should be, “tied to a stake at the intersection of Main and Madison streets, branded in the forehead with a hot iron, and [tortured] with tailor’s sheers” (5/ pg.54)
If I were Ida I would run for dear life and that’s just what she ended up doing. There was a citizens meeting where Edward Carmack, the editor of Memphis Daily Commercial created a committee to deal with Ida B. Wells and J.L. Fleming, owners of Free of Speech. The owners got away so the mob (the committee) went after an employee who left six months prior to this incident. The mob beat him and threatened him by holding a gun to his head. They had him sign a paper saying that Free Speech was a slander on white woman. The white people wanted to make sure Ida wouldn’t publish again so they destroyed her office and left a threatening note saying that anyone tried to publish the newspaper again death would occur.
This whole time Ida had no idea what was going on back home. She ended up having to stay in New York because if she went back she would have been a dead woman.
T. Thomas Fortune invited Ida to write a column a week and to become one-fourth owner of the New York Age to help boost his newspaper. Ida now left her live in the south and began fresh in the north.
Ida was truly a saint who became one of the world’s first investigative reporters. She was a heroine for exposing the truth about lynching. She continued to write and wrote one of the most detailed articles about lynching of all time. This was published on the front page of the New York Age on June 25, 1892 called “Exiled.”
A white Memphis newspaper later responds to this article by saying that she still prints scandalous articles. The public had a different opinion, most were grateful for her research. Fredrick Douglass went to Ida and told her how her article was eye opening to him.
Douglass inspired Ida to write a pamphlet, expanding on materials covered in her articles called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.
In conclusion, Ida. B Wells stood up for what she believed in. She is truly a powerful woman. She completed her mission and informed the public what was going on. I thought it was neat that lynching was almost gone by the time she died in March 1931. She truly made an impact in history.
(1) McMurry, Linda. To Keep The Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
(2) Royster, Jones Jacqueline. Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti- Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. New York: Bedford Books, 1997. Print.
(3) Schechter, Patricia. Ida B. Wells Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Print.
(4) Giddings, Paula. Ida: A Sword Among Lions. New York:HarperCollins, 2008. Print.
(5) Fradin, Brindell Dennis, and Judith Bloom Fradin. Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Clarion Books, 2000. Print.
(6) Black, Car Patti. “Ida B. Wells: A Courageous Voice for Civil Rights,” Mississippi History, 2001. Web. 28 Feb. 2012
From Downton Abbey to Call the Midwife and now Jamestown, period dramas always fall into the classic trap – characters with laughably liberal values for their day. Stop the madness, TV-makers!
Breaking news: women are and always have been people.
Weak women in the past would not have survived.
Affable, pleasant wives are what you want as a nobleman for political reasons. So she doesn’t get more power than you and pull an Isabella of France, Edward II’s wife and depose her husband set herself up as queen in 1326/7.
Period tv shows and movies do have a problem with putting 21st mindsets on their characters (not just their women), but it’s more subtle and to make things more palatable for viewers, not that the women have more personality and vim than a damp mop.
The disastrous Australian Emu War.
Someone turned it into a comic. YES.
never forget the emu war
My favourite part of this entire post is the final pic listing the human casualties and losses in the Emu war as “10 000 rounds of ammo.” and “Dignity.”