Thursday, 24 February 2011

Day Off for Jet Lag

Oh, poppets. Zzzzz. And tomorrow morning I have to sound bright, shiny and human for Irish radio!

I am trying to think of a quick bit of Advice for Singles, but all I can think of is:

A) It is very odd how in many books written before 1970 (e.g. the Ruth Rendell mystery I read on the flight to Canada), it is assumed that unmarried women eventually go funny in the head. I cannot imagine that there was any scientific evidence for this whatsoever, and yet people keep alluding to it in early 20th century novels. Goodness knows how many women gave up being Single just because they worried about "Old Maids" going batty.

B) In my Catholic dating website days, I NEVER clicked that button that said that I would be willing to relocate thousands of miles away for love. However, I did. Which just goes to show that concrete reality beats hypothesis and theory hands down.

See you soon!


some guy on the street said...

... funny in the head...

For whatever reason, this contention reminds me of something Chesterton wrote:

Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the beast while they are both still in the story of "Beauty and the Beast". Every man has to find out that his wife is cross - that is to say, sensitive to the point of madness: for every woman is mad by the masculine standard. But let him find out that she is mad while her madness is more worth considering than anyone else's sanity.
[GKC "Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron" in The Common Man 142-3]

Julie said...

HEM-ahemhemhem. De "funny in the head":

Up to about the mid-19c, the proper place of an unmarried woman was in a family. We might think of Jane Austen (and her sister Cassandra), whose profession was Sister and Aunt. Starting in the mid to late 19c, we start to see more and more women claiming the right to be unmarried but to support themselves and live with other single women, that is, outside of their families. These women were often nurses, teachers, etc.

Now, the mid to late 19c is also frequently identified by gender and cultural historians as a time when the authority of medical "experts" was gaining the ascendancy. Although the Enlightenment had started this process, religious officials had retained much of their authority for decades. I think it's Mary Louise Roberts who uses the example of chloroform during childbirth: whereas religious leaders objected to taking away the punishment of Eve and the possibility of a sedated woman having sexy hallucinations, the medical doctors win out and the priests are discredited. Thus, chaste, unmarried, professional women, while certainly unusual, were generally able to argue that they were living healthy, constructive lives channeling their "natural" talents for caring/mothering etc. The fear expressed in the wider society is that women might never want to get married or have babies again if they can support themselves!

What changes everything is Freud and psychoanalytic theory. This calls into question the (mental) health of an unmarried woman. Perhaps she is repressed, or psychologically twisted from lack of sex. All those teachers living together among those girl students: they're probably lesbians or in danger of it. (I'm talking about women here, but bachelors are affected by this development also.) Suddenly sexual expression is necessary to be normal and healthy, whereas only a few years earlier it was widely "known" that a woman's real "natural" need was to be motherly, not to have sex.

That's a pretty sketchy history of the thing but how exciting to see an issue I know something about pop up ;)

Seraphic said...

Aha! I should have known Freud was at that bottom of it. What a pest he was and is. Sigh.

hip2bsquare said...

"Which just goes to show that concrete reality beats hypothesis and theory hands down."

I am becoming convinced of this more and more each day.

Becca said...

Ah concrete reality. I always said I would never live in Toronto... Whoops. I laughed in the face of the first person who encouraged me to apply for a certain job...which is my current job (and was actually the reason that I moved to Toronto). God has a funny sense of humour!

Alephine said...

I'm sure Julie is right about Freud. But even before Freud there was an idea, going back to ancient times, that if a woman kept her virginity too long it could make her sick or hysterical. Your humours got pent up or something. It was probably about equally scientific as the Freudian theory.