A Pox on the Patriarchy
Is it just us, or is the patriarchy working itself up into a righteous fury over the foibles and sins of women, somehow just really kind of…well, hot?
If you are as sexually disturbed as us and the answer is yes, then welcome – you will find no judgement here.
And follow me dear readers, on a path into the mists of history, to a time where women wore uncomfortable clothes dictated to them by fashion, and men leered at them, but reserved the right to criticise them for doing so anyway.
No really, we’re going back in time – to circa 1660 – when the first women began to appear on the English stage. And this made the patriarchs very uncomfortable indeed.
The general trend of writing about women from this era focused more than ever before, or since, on how women looked, and how this related to their inner modesty. Women were acting on the stage – who was to say they weren’t acting in real life? In front of you right now? When your wife said she had gone off to visit her sister, how could you be sure she didn’t mean her mister?
Cue moral panic.
For those of us who get a little high on the sports of righteous fury, we really are spoilt for choice in this era. There’s a seemingly never-ending supply of indignation spouting in a ceaseless and glorious fountain from the pens [wink lol] of these men. But since this column requires us to select a single recipient of the crown of ‘Crush of the Week’, I will this week be focusing on Monsieur ‘Miso-Spilus’ – a man so obsessed with the vices of ‘painted harlots’, that he actually named himself after them.
The OED entry for ‘Miso’ reads as follows: ‘Forming terms, chiefly nouns and adjectives, with the sense ‘(a person) who hates or dislikes ——’, ‘hatred or dislike of ——’, ‘characterized by hatred or dislike of ——’. The more significant terms are entered in the dictionary as main entries (misanthropy n., misogamy n., misogyny n., etc.)
And Spilus? ‘A spot or mark on the skin’, says my dear OED[– oh OED, / How I shall miss thee / When my subscription runs out.] No Anglo-Saxon etymologies for old Miso – only Greek and Latin will do. That’s how serious a gentleman he is. Yes that’s right ladies.
For those of you who haven’t had to spend your life in libraries reading up on 17th century cosmetic practices, the spots to which ‘Spilus is referring to, are those which ladies had the temerity to place on their faces “under pretense of making themselves more lovely then God hath made them.” Shocking.
Not content with changing his name to reflect his disgust and rejection of such blasphemous practices, MS took to writing tracts on the subject, among them On Painted and Black-spotted Faces and, my personal favourite, A Wonder of Wonders: or A Metamorphosis of Fair Faces voluntarily transformed into foul Visages, Or, an Invective against Black-spotted Faces.
According to Misospilus, “spotted faces have but spotted souls”, and he lamented “this brazen-fac’d Age of ours” that allowed things to come to such a pass. Poor Misospilus.
But never fear Misospilus. While you may not be able to vent your sexual energy on these women who have clearly been passing you over for lesser men, I see your worth. And, if I may say so, “For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille.”