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"Distaff" is a metonymy for the female side of a family (or society, I guess.)  What is the equivalent metonymy for the male side?


Oct. 27th, 2014 03:40 am (UTC)
Distaff v. spear - fads in metaphor aside, the punishment reserved for uppity and disobedient women included the ducking stool which sometimes meant drowning and the scold's bridle, a nasty bit of ironwork. If things got out of hand domestically speaking, the punishment for a wife who killed her husband was that reserved for treason, burning. For him, pretty much not much happened. The man is the head of the woman and and the Anglo-Saxon status of hus-band lent a magisterial power over the household including the power of corporal punishment. This came perilously close to the old Roman power of death and her death, in the day, could be argued the accidental result of the legal infliction of punishment.

Learned at my mother's knee (my dad's, really - his old nursery rhyme book): A woman is a gladsome thing, She do the wash and do the wring. And my Welsh aunt: A whistling woman and a crowing hen Will never come to any good end.

Please forgive me for asking, but when did Wikipedia become an academic source? It is a good start but surely not the end.
Oct. 27th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
Examples of the awful treatment of women in the past by men -- continuing to this day in many places around the world -- can only be equalled by the awful treatment of men by other men. There is no way to make a count of the atrocities in order to make a comparison, for the heart of man is desperately wicked.

Wikipedia has been shown -- at least in the areas of science and math, which might be thought the toughest -- to have a rate of error about the same as the Encyclopedia Brittanica. (Of course Wikipedia began as a digitized version of the EB.) It has the advantage that anyone interested in a topic, and concerned for its accuracy, gets to change it, and editors check the changes. That it contains errors despite all this is undoubted. And yes, research should go farther -- though not for conversations like this, surely.
Oct. 28th, 2014 07:01 am (UTC)
Yes, and apologies and it is true that men kill men, each the other at the instigation of other men as cannon fodder and women are not exempt from these killings: it is just than women have been singled out in horrible ways from the usual rules of honorable death. If the heart of man is wicked, not even the devil knows the heart of man says the common law and so we are tried not for what we think,except for Salem and McCarthyism and other idiocies, but for what we in fact do. And so in so many ways are wicked the ways of women, for which their trials are often domestic. I carry no brief for either sex, or all six or more of sexes, but I wish that there might be a bit more kindness, sometimes.