Thursday, September 24, 2015

Queen Elizabeth: Wo-man?

It is not as outlandish as it seems to view Queen Elizabeth I as both male and female. In a time when the female sexual organs were viewed as the inverse of the male, it was not beyond the realm of possibility that a woman could become a man through vigorous exercise. In fact there is the tale of the shepherdess who in mid leap (she was leaping over a fence) became a man. Although this was more possible with girls than with women. It was a concern for men, if their wives were engaged in 'man's' work, that they would come home only to be greeted at the door by a man. This not only threatened the hierarchy of things, but also the fundamental power structure. Perhaps, through vigorous exercise, Queen Elizabeth was able to keep Lord Burghley from constantly insisting that she marry. Obviously it takes more than vigorous exercise to make a woman into a man, but that's not the point. The point is that to the Elizabethan mind, this was indeed possible.

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