I went to the library after my doctor’s appointment today (which I had to ask for a bill for because I didn’t have the 300 SEK – that’s about 40 USD – that it cost), and wrote for two hours. You would think that I would get my words done in that time but because I’m insane I started restructuring things and swapping POVs around so that took most of that time. I do like it better now, though, so that’s good. I attempt to write books in different styles, tenses and such, but I seem to always end up with first person, present tense and a multitude of narrators. I guess it’s just my thing.
I’m also reading this book called Makalösa kvinnor which is Swedish for ‘Exceptional women’, except make (male) or maka (female) also means spouse, and lös also means ‘loose’ or, in this context, ‘-less’. As in ‘spouseless’, which isn’t a word in English, I know, but it’s really not one in Swedish either. ANYWAY. It’s about women transgressing gender barriers in history, and there’s a number of essays, most which are really interesting. One of them talks about how in the 16th-17th century there were a range of genders; male, female and ‘other’, although ‘other’ also had a range within itself. You could go to a midwife and get a paper confirming your sex, and there was at least one (biological) woman who did it and was proven to be male after the midwife glanced at the bulge in her pants. Which I assume she’d stuffed with something. And no, her employer didn’t see anything weird in his employee suddenly showing paperwork about being a dude, because people had already been gossiping that she was (and I quote, I hate this word) a hermaphrodite. You know. Since she wore men’s clothing on occasion.
There was one woman who was executed for this, and the verdict specified that she had to wear men’s clothing and a woman’s headscarf as she was beheaded. Further back there were women who were similarly executed, but it was done by hanging, because that was a ‘male’ way of doing it, while beheading and so on was more a women’s crime type thing. I’m not sure if this was done to shame them further or what, but it seems a bit odd, since it’s basically confirming their status as men. But then again, I am not a historian. At all. There might be Reasons I don’t really get.
I was also amused by the amount of women who married these women-pretending-to-be-men and when they were found out they just flat out said that no, they had no idea. Sex? Oh no they just weren’t into that. And the courts usually accepted it without further questioning, probably because the idea of women sleeping with women was a bit uncomfortable, to say the least, and they just didn’t want to poke around in it. The thing that’s sad about many of these stories is that most of them end with the person in question falling in love with a (biological) man, marrying him and going back to being ‘a proper woman’. Mysteriously they suddenly become really into female type activities too, even if they previous were really bad at and/or hated sewing and such.
And yes, this might just be research for a certain anthology. I didn’t mean to do so much reading on the topic, but once I got started it was hard to stop.