[LMB] OLT Reading ricochets with lots of tangents re medieval storytelling

Azalais Aranxta tiamat at tsoft.com
Tue Sep 30 22:06:22 BST 2008

On Tue, 30 Sep 2008, Elizabeth Holden wrote:

> --- On Tue, 9/30/08, Howard Brazee <howard at brazee.net> wrote:
> > I don't think he speaks to our world, which includes to
> > our fantasy worlds.   Didn't he recommend that when a guy likes a
> > peasant, he should take her by force - peasants didn't understand love
> > anyway, they just copulated like animals.
> The thing is: it is so difficult to read tone and intent, even in contemporary email among those of us with a shared time and cultural knowledge.  Satire is particularly hard to read. Authorial voice and fictional voice - satire, irony and literalism - are hard to sort out in archaic language and with a cultural background that's hard to interpret.
> Anyway, I can't imagine any medieval Christian openly
> advocating rape, because sex was a sin, and sexual violence was
> a double sin

While this is very true, it's also true that what a culture
defines as "rape" has a lot to do with cultural ideas about who
has the right to say no to whom.  Historically in most cultures
there have been actual rapes that did not count as rape socially,
legally or culturally, regardless of the amount of suffering
inflicted on the woman or boy who was raped.

Witness the many cultures in which, regardless of stated ethics
to the effect that "rape is always wrong", prostitutes don't have
the right to say no to anyone (and can sometimes sue for theft of
services, but never can get anyone convicted of rape), or that
married women don't have the right to say no to their husbands
(and the charges will not even be heard).  In the 1970s when I
was a teenager and dating the forward thinking state of West
Virginia where I was then living extended this marital
"privilege" to girlfriends, recognising that times had changed
and that women who lived with or were known to be sleeping with a
certain man were now also pressing charges against unwanted sex
with men they had presumably consented to sex with, or else they
wouldn't have moved in or been spending nights in the apartment
(no, I'm not bitter; why do you ask? but I do hope things have
changed a bit since I was 17...)

Show me a situation in Capellanus' era in which a peasant woman
accused a man of this class of raping her and got justice, or a
peasant man defended his wife or daughter and wasn't punished for
it, and I'll believe that people in this era considered these
rapes crimes generally.  I have no idea what Capellanus thought
personally, but I'm well aware that people are perfectly capable
of saying "no means no" and even thinking they mean it while at
the same time in some other compartment of their head believing
that there are situations in which men have the "right" or rather
the privilege to take what they want.

Vide "she should have known better" and "what was she wearing"
and "but I bought her dinner" even today...

~malfoy... no smiley for this one.

Azalais Aranxta (~malfoy)
ataniell93 on LiveJournal and Vox

"I know the true world, and you know I do. But we needn't let it
think we all bow down." --Christopher Fry

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