posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 05:40 PM
Originally posted by Ellie Sagan
reply to post by Biliverdin
That's really interesting. I didn't know any of that. I know of some instances where women dressed as men but I didn't know it was illegal. And
that whole thing about excluding women from midwifery seems so weird. It seems that they are naturally suited for it. Why were they forbidden from
doing it in the Middle Ages?
Mainly due to the rise of 'academic study' and it's accepted superiority. There were very, very few institutions at that time that allowed women
to study to that level, and those that did, considered it scandalous, given the increasing perception of women as the 'fairer sex' and therefore
more corruptible than men, that women should be allowed to observe the human body in all it's glory, male or female. Much of the teaching was done
using dissections at that time, and since men were not allowed to look at naked women, under church laws, those cadavers were exclusively male.
With the rise of 'towns', governed by councils, only those recognised, or licenced to practice medicine could do so, or even gain access to the town
at all, and then they were lodged in seperate districts and restricted by curfews. Anyone breaking those curfews or restrictions would be subject to
being brought before the council to account for their actions. Hence why so many women practioners, called upon by the women-folk to help them
deliver or for other 'women's ailments' were condemned as witches. The middle ages though were generally not a good time to be a woman, even the
slightest voicing of an opinion could lead to an accusation of witchcraft. Increasingly another hinderance to the craft of midwifery was that fear
and superstition prevented girls from becoming apprentices, and the practioners had no-one therefore, to pass their skills on to. Many traditional
midwives continued to practice in rural communities and their victimisation can be seen in tandem with the later witch-hunts, but with increasing
regulation, it became harder and harder for them to practice anyway, and education, much of it organised by religious orders and led from the bible,
increased superstitious beliefs associated with their practices, even in close rural communities. And according to some of the recent studies, may of
the women accused were identified by other women, those who were barren, or had not had a successful pregnancy...so like in the Salem Witch Trials,
there was also elements of general malignancy and nastiness involved by those who felt less blessed than others and felt the need for blame. Church
and town laws empowered them to do so.
What was particularly perverse about the situation is that men were not allowed to visually examine women, so basically women were left without health
care at all. Women were excluded from practicing medicine, and men were allowed to touch but not to look, if even that, and often had no frame of
reference for women's reproductive systems anyway. Up until the 18th century, it was still being taught in teaching hospitals that the fetus was
formed by a coagulation process in the womb of the mentrual flow...as bizarre as that may sound. And even in the Victorian era, pictures were issued
showing the correct way in which a doctor should examine a pregnant woman so as not to look at her 'bits'...which basically entailed reaching up her
skirt while pointedly looking the other way.