Bloody Bitches: She-Midas

medieval-woman-alone

Your husband will not touch you.

He will not even come near you.

He barely looks at you at all.

Who can blame him?

You are the scourge of mankind right now, the cause of deep discomfiture and confusion to men.

In your present state, you are beyond the aid of medicine – doctors cannot heal your illness. 

You are poisonous to plant life – farmers struggle to save crops that have come into contact with you. 

Your very nearness to metal turns it to rust – blacksmiths, coppersmiths, gilders & goldsmiths have reason to secretly fear and openly bar you from their shops.

In your present state, no man can tolerate the emotional turmoil you create within their superior psyche.

You, milady, are a bloody woman.

And you are bleeding from a place that men cannot fully control.

unclothed-medieval-woman-surrounded-by-men

Throughout the Middle Ages, a woman bleeding from her “private privy” was treated no better than a dog.

She was looked upon as, to put it indelicately, a bloody bitch.

Menstruation was seen as unnatural, and worse – unholy. As medieval society was exceedingly devout, the story of Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden colored ancient man’s perception of menstruating women as wicked beings swollen with and spewing Lucifer’s blood.

In fact, this view of a woman’s “discharge” dates back to biblical times, according to Leviticus 15:19:30:

When a woman has a discharge and the discharge from her body is blood, she will remain in a state of menstrual pollution for seven days. Anyone who touches her will be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed must wash clothing and body. If a man goes so far as to sleep with her, he will contract her menstrual pollution and be unclean for seven days.”

Not to interrupt Leviticus, but…menstruation as a contagion?

That, I would love to see.

I would pay money to watch medieval or modern men suffer through PMS.

crying-man-comforted-by-male-friend

Leviticus continues: “Once she is cured of her discharge, she will allow seven days to go by; after that she will be clean.

Because we were polluted pigs before this.

Wait a minute.

medieval-women-watching-hourglass

We have to wait an additional week after our periods before we’re de-pigged?

That leaves only 2 weeks each month for us to interact with the human race.

Wtf??

First century Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder also informed medieval beliefs about the inverted-Midas potency of a woman’s menstrual blood:

Contact with it turns new wine sour. Crops touched by it become barren…seeds in gardens dry up, the fruit of the trees fall off. The bright surface of mirrors in which it is merely reflected is dimmed, the edges of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled. Hives of bees die. Even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air. To taste it drives dogs mad, and infects their bites with incurable poison…

Wait! Gimmie a minute to stop laughing!

Not to contradict Pliny the freakin’ Elder, but…didn’t he also say: “Nullum tam impudens mendacium est, ut teste careat.”

There’s no lie so outrageous but that someone can be found to swear it’s true.”

Not to mention the controversy surrounding Pliny’s alleged scholarly scientific contributions.

So, you know, bite me, Pliny.

sarcastic-cat

Now, you sigh dejectedly.

You feel it coming – the witching hourwhen you morph into a bloody bitch.

Your husband moves your things from the bed chamber you share, into a separate chamber – or into the barn or kitchen if you are poor. 

He does not want to be in close contact with his polluted pig of a wife, whom God the Father in His wisdom is punishing for the sins of Eve in the Garden of Paradise. 

Your husband does not want to smell your piggy smells, lay upon bed linen or straw stained with your evil discharge, and he most certainly will not dip the most valued part of his anatomy into Lucifer’s pit. 

fire_hole

For some, this noxious dribble of female pollution becomes a husband’s monthly unleashing; he is free to seek physical pleasure elsewhere, with ‘clean’ women who suffer from nothing more than ill-repute.

And venereal disease.

But that, men can control; doctors can treat, and even cure it occasionally. 

Moreover, women with v.d. do not poison plant life nor rust metal with their “polluted” presence. Neither do they create discomfiture and confusion in a man’s superior psyche.

And, unlike the retribution cast upon bloody bitches by God Himself, there is nothing unholy about v.d.

medieval-man-with-prostitute

Unfortunately, however, you are not the husband. 

You are the wife, and so must suffer humiliating societal quarantine – if not publicly, at least in your own home, your own mind and heart. You must live with the knowledge that you are evil enough in God’s eyes for Him to curse you with blood in the most unholy place on your person…

How must medieval women have felt about this?

Did they agree? Did it make them angry?

Or did they just duck their heads, for lack of anything to do about it?

How it must have hurt to have the man you love consider you an evil against God…look at you with distaste where, once, his eyes adored you…send you from his bed, repulsed by the very nearness of you.

Who’s heart could survive that?

sad-medieval-woman

Would you have ducked your head,

or

become the Gloria Steinem of bloody bitches?

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Read Sylver’s Medieval Monday Bloody Bitches series!

medieval-man-pulling-away-from-bloody-medieval-woman

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Medieval Monday

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Top Illustration: “Medieval Woman’ by artist Hebe B. Alioto

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