When England was Feminist

I always knew the Scandinavians must be to blame! I’ve just come across an interesting article on an American historical blogsite on gender relations in England in Anglo-Saxon times: https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/168948. All lovely and equal, women independent, both sexes doing the cooking and washing up, women becoming tribal chiefs, breast-feeding shared…. Well, I may exaggerate a little. (Though Kajsa once tried to convince me that men could breast-feed if they only tried.)

But anyway, it seems that things were relatively fine and dandy pre-1066, in almost a paradise of gender equality. That was until the Normans came along: turning women into chattel, forcing them into chastity belts, not letting them play football, and so on. (Unless they happened to be Queens.) This was yet another terrible downside of 1066 – Britain’s only experience of being brutally colonised by foreigners. (Unless we count the Anglo-Saxon colonisers themselves.) Bastards! And no: the great cathedrals don’t make up for it.

But hold on a moment: who were these Normans? Second-generation Viking immigrants, mostly, reared on soused herring and wood-bark, and proud No. 1 in the European ‘Raping and Pillaging League’ at that time. Hence the name, ‘North Men’. I’m sorry, my feminist social-democratic not-been-in-a-war-in-200-years Swedish friends: you can’t escape responsibility for that. Without you, we wouldn’t be needing ‘Me-Too’ today.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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