Getting Naked With the Wenches, Part I

Jo here, but It’s our anniversary, so we’re heading into a special week. Yes, it’s been a full year of heroic journey, goal, motivation and conflict, learning and growing. All that good stuff in fiction, some of which we’d rather avoid in real life.*G* But we’ve survived and enjoyed, and we hope the readers here have,Parthenonnude
too. If there was a highlight of the year, let us know in a comment below. If you’re a lurker who never posts, uncloak and speak. There will be prizes!

We Wenches thought we’d do a combined blog for this event, and run it all week, and we’ve settled on the subject of nakedness in the past — the fiction and the non-fiction — sparked by a reader question. I hope you enjoy the following and please, share your comments and insights, including on the crucial question — in fiction, do you prefer accuracy on this point, or behavior more in sync with modern ways?

Mensbath

It really wouldn’t be right to expose a naked Cabbage Patch Kid on the internet, so I offer this 16th century print of men in a public bath.

In the responses to Susan/Miranda’s recent blog, The Shirt Off His Back, Kay asked an excellent question: "I have a question though. All those clothes made me think of the smell, which made me think of bathing, which made me think of two movies: Valmont and Vanity Fair. In those movies they showed women bathing in a tub with some kind of cloth draped over the tub and with a shirt/blouse/chemise worn. Does anyone know what that was all about? Was that Hollywood or was it real?"

SS: Anyone wish to answer?  To be honest, I haven’t a clue if Regency ladies bathed beneath sheets in their shifts….

MJ: SS, the question from the reader was interesting.  Given the vast variety of history, there were probably women who bathed covered up.  Though I wouldn’t have expected them to be French. <G>

MJP, who has absolutely no actual knowledge on this subject–but covering up does sound plausible

Regencybath017SS:  While looking for images as illustrations, I stumbled across this magnificent Regency "bamboo bath room" from a grand house in Wales, from the book Regency Style by Steven Parissien. Note the caption, "This early nineteenth-century bath and its integral shower had its own coal-fired hot water supply." Pretty neat, no matter what one was wearing in the water!

LC:  This is well worth a blog.  Women did wear a shift in the bath.  I’m conscious of historical inaccuracy when I bathe my heroines naked, and one of these days I’ll probably drape the bath with linens and put them in a shift, but it is just so weird–and did they wash over the shift or under it?  I don’t know the details–or forgot them if I knew them.

JO: I have had people bathe in tubs lined with cloths. It sounds decadently comfortable to me, but also practical in protecting people from rough or cold surfaces. I have no sources on what people wore, but it doesn’t make much sense to me that they bathed in a shift. Not saying they didn’t, but why, in the privacy of their home? Now when using a public bath or a part of the house that was less private, then yes. Before the mid 18th century very few houses had corridors around bedrooms, so people could be wandering through.

MJ: I’m sure that both were done.  History isn’t homogeneous, after all!

LC:  The question is, what exactly is meant by “naked”?  I vaguely remembered reading the word in reference to someone who was wearing only underclothes.  So I hied me to the Oxford English Dictionary, and here’s what I found:

A. adj. I. 1.  Unclothed, having no clothing upon the body, stripped to the skin, nude.  Also, occas., having only an under-garment on.
Here’s a relevant citation, dated 1761:  “The streets were…filled with naked people, some with shirts and shifts on only, and numbers without either.”

Also, apparently, getting naked for sex was not a big thing, either, for men or women.  But this may apply mainly to adulterous sex–given the complications of getting dressed and undressed, it makes plenty of sense.

And so I turn to THE FORBIDDEN EROTICA OF THOMAS ROWLANDSON and flip through  the pages.  Lots of people having sex in various positions.   Several  orgies.  The majority of times, the people are wearing clothing, though  (primarily in the case of women) not much of it (shifts or dresses open to  show breasts and privates, stockings and garters).  The exceptions are  drawings imitating old masters, and scenes portraying figures from other cultures, e.g., ancient Greeks or Arabian harems.  One naked man in a wooden tub but no women in tubs.  Ah, and near the end I come upon one curious picture of a couple having sex on a strange cushioned chair with two  wheels, with this note: “What sets this conception off from the rest of  Rowlandson’s work, with only occasional exceptions, is the total nudity of  the fitures.  For the academically trained artist, even in bawdy  illustrations, apparently total nudity demanded to be set in a context that  made definite allusions to classical antiquity.”  Later, “when Rowlandson  does draw with contemporary immediacy the figures in erotic poses are almost  invariably clothed or partly clothed.”
To get an idea of what his erotic art is like, (Warning: it’s explicit), check out these prints on Wikipedia.

SS:  My guess is that most people in our favorite historical past had sex partially clothed because the clothes were too complicated to remove entirely, but still obliging because of their lack of undergarments.  Also before central heating, even a palace was cold.  In addition, there’s  that whole emphasis on civility, that Man (esp. Gentle Man) is better than the low Beasts, and being naked is reducing things to an unsettling equality.

I went to a standard primary source/famous dirty book of the mid-18th century — "Fanny Hill" by John Cleland– and granted that that was dealing with professional sex rather than romantic, it seems that it’s about fifty-fifty whether the lovers fully disrobe or not.  Then, too, blushing Fanny refers to being "naked to my shift", and feeling that being seen thus is the same as being out-and-out naked.  Another factor seems to be age: the young and beautiful strip down at will, but the older folks just flip up petticoats and unbutton breeches.

Two hundred years earlier (and in Italy), the people in Aretino’s "Dialogues" are so overcome with lust that they don’t bother to undress.  Yet in the accompanying in illustrations, everyone’s always naked.  Maybe, like in the creaky "Joy of Sex" from the 1970s, the better to show the famous postures?

JO: Or not. I have some testimony from adultery trials about that. I’ll post it later. Even primary sources can be so very confusing.

LC: It does seem to fit in with some other things, though.  For instance, that doctors would examine women patients by talking to them, and did not necessarily touch them.  No physician ever actually felt the gigantic lump in Fanny Burney’s breast.  They apparently took her word for it, then did the mastectomy.

JO: That’s the great advantage of a good midwife. She’d poke and pry as much as she needed to.

      MJ:  I think it was Lord Chesterfield that gave his (illegitimate) son some night shirts with a neat little hole in the middle to be used only for copulation.  (Can’t remember the wording, but that was the general idea.)   
     mjp, thinking this will make a very cool blog by whoever is brave enough to take it on–and that does NOT include her!

JO: LOL! That nightshirt would make a good scene in a book, but I don’t think I’m going to take THAT on!

SK: There are plenty of instances of covered baths in medieval woodcut illustrations — look up images Medieval_bath_3 of Bathsheba, for instance, which often has bathing scenes, and you’ll probably find a woman wearing a turban and often some kind of light covering in the tub, either something draped over her, or a tent over all, which probably created a sauna effect. Wooden baths were draped in sheets before the water was added for comfort and to help slow inevitable leaks.

JO: I suspect the cloths in this case are to avoid the roughness and even splinters from the wood. These baths look to be made like barrels, and they certainly knew how to seal a barrel. Good thought on a kind of sauna. The tents would also provide some privacy and a shield from draughts — always a hazard in England. Which reminds me, though slightly off topic here, that I have a quote from Mrs. Thrale (friend of Dr. Johnson) about sea bathing in Brighton in the late 18th century. She and her daughters went to be dipped in the sea pre-dawn in NOVEMBER! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! "Cold but pleasant," she describes it. Then they returned home to set out for London, a whole day’s journey. They really were tough in those days.

SK: Bathsheba_bourdichon Bathsheba is often shown nude — the subject provided an excuse for a little voyeuristic fun, the medieval equivalent to a girlie mag. *g*

In the recent Marie Antoinette movie, there are a couple of scenes where Marie (Kirsten Dunst) is bathing, and she’s wearing very fancy translucent shifts while having a good long soak. And women were examined by their doctors under sheets, the doc groping around blindly even during births, so the whole bathing with a cover-up makes sense. Poor Fanny Burney!

But like the knitted sleeping caps that men often wore, this stuff does not get mentioned in even the most accurate of historical romances. And with good reason!  😉

JO: After we’d hashed over this I did a little research and I think it makes some interesting general points. The following is from Volume II of THE HISTORY OF PRIVATE LIFE, Revelations of the Medieval World, Ed by George Duby.

"Medieval literature has much to say about exposure of the body to oneself and others, as well as about the function of clothing (were clothes worn for protection, modesty, or embellishment?) and the perception of nudity. The fact that clothing was worn reveals exhibitionistic impulses and latent feelings of shame. Literature shows us the embarrassment that people felt when stripped naked, as well as their implicit or explicit rejection by others; yet nakedness could also be an occasion for jubilation, at least for men, in whose self image the nude body played an important part."

The following is my precis on what follows: Nakedness is equated with loss of civilization, either by punishment or injury/derangement. In literature, people who encounter a naked man will assume him wicked or deranged. Such men are normally portrayed as hairy and thus beastlike. But communal male nakedness was often part of rites of sociability and social cohesiveness, especially in a bath. (See above.) In contrast to modern ideals of manly duty, in one story, the damsel thinks "if he were bathed and steamed, his skin would be white and soft." How would that go over in modern historical fiction?

This communal bathing as manly ritual could be seen as similar to modern team locker rooms and the fuss about whether women reporters should be allowed in. Old ideas die hard, but perhaps if that’s okay it should be okay in reverse? Is it? I don’t know. One thing that’s struck me over this discussion is the persistent gender differences. Female nudity has generally been acceptable when total male nudity isn’t, and that’s still the case today, isn’t it? It’s not that I’m wanting to see naked men all over the place, but I do wonder if allowing men to conceal their privacy, we’re letting them have an unequal advantage. Comments?

Back to medieval literature. Nakedness of women in medieval fiction is usually at the command of a lord or king, either in relation to the selection of a bride or punishment. It is shameful if not private, and always linked to sexual desire.

There’ll be more on Wednesday, but get commenting now.

108 thoughts on “Getting Naked With the Wenches, Part I”

  1. Whats so funny about knitted sleeping caps? I wear ’em! Only in Winter admittedly. Despite the paltry central heating this is definitely still a Victorian house. The rest makes a lot of sense too, so I’ll have to try that bathing-in-clothes thing in my authentically draughty scullery.

    Reply
  2. Whats so funny about knitted sleeping caps? I wear ’em! Only in Winter admittedly. Despite the paltry central heating this is definitely still a Victorian house. The rest makes a lot of sense too, so I’ll have to try that bathing-in-clothes thing in my authentically draughty scullery.

    Reply
  3. Whats so funny about knitted sleeping caps? I wear ’em! Only in Winter admittedly. Despite the paltry central heating this is definitely still a Victorian house. The rest makes a lot of sense too, so I’ll have to try that bathing-in-clothes thing in my authentically draughty scullery.

    Reply
  4. Whats so funny about knitted sleeping caps? I wear ’em! Only in Winter admittedly. Despite the paltry central heating this is definitely still a Victorian house. The rest makes a lot of sense too, so I’ll have to try that bathing-in-clothes thing in my authentically draughty scullery.

    Reply
  5. Francois, it’s true that we have to spend some time in a draughty old house to understand living in them. In winter, they can be extremely cold despite every effort to heat them. For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe. Instead they stuck mainly to fireplaces which send a lot of the heat right up the chimney, and also present a fire hazard, especially to ladies in long, wide skirts.
    Jo

    Reply
  6. Francois, it’s true that we have to spend some time in a draughty old house to understand living in them. In winter, they can be extremely cold despite every effort to heat them. For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe. Instead they stuck mainly to fireplaces which send a lot of the heat right up the chimney, and also present a fire hazard, especially to ladies in long, wide skirts.
    Jo

    Reply
  7. Francois, it’s true that we have to spend some time in a draughty old house to understand living in them. In winter, they can be extremely cold despite every effort to heat them. For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe. Instead they stuck mainly to fireplaces which send a lot of the heat right up the chimney, and also present a fire hazard, especially to ladies in long, wide skirts.
    Jo

    Reply
  8. Francois, it’s true that we have to spend some time in a draughty old house to understand living in them. In winter, they can be extremely cold despite every effort to heat them. For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe. Instead they stuck mainly to fireplaces which send a lot of the heat right up the chimney, and also present a fire hazard, especially to ladies in long, wide skirts.
    Jo

    Reply
  9. While I certainly understand that getting naked was difficult (or rather than getting undressed again was), I always wonder about the scenes where the heroine’s dress is simply bunched up around her waist. Doesn’t it get awfully wrinkled? Do bodily fluids accrue (don’t want to get too specific here)? I’d think it would be harder to hide what you’d done in the back drawing room during the ball in such a case rather than if the outer garments had come off entirely. And how do you push up a Victorian dress and its hoops or a Georgian dress and its panniers? I truly want to believe the H/H are too swept up in their emotions to care, but sitting in my living room all I can see is Carol Burnett in her GWTW parody being hit in the face by her hoopskirts as she sat down.

    Reply
  10. While I certainly understand that getting naked was difficult (or rather than getting undressed again was), I always wonder about the scenes where the heroine’s dress is simply bunched up around her waist. Doesn’t it get awfully wrinkled? Do bodily fluids accrue (don’t want to get too specific here)? I’d think it would be harder to hide what you’d done in the back drawing room during the ball in such a case rather than if the outer garments had come off entirely. And how do you push up a Victorian dress and its hoops or a Georgian dress and its panniers? I truly want to believe the H/H are too swept up in their emotions to care, but sitting in my living room all I can see is Carol Burnett in her GWTW parody being hit in the face by her hoopskirts as she sat down.

    Reply
  11. While I certainly understand that getting naked was difficult (or rather than getting undressed again was), I always wonder about the scenes where the heroine’s dress is simply bunched up around her waist. Doesn’t it get awfully wrinkled? Do bodily fluids accrue (don’t want to get too specific here)? I’d think it would be harder to hide what you’d done in the back drawing room during the ball in such a case rather than if the outer garments had come off entirely. And how do you push up a Victorian dress and its hoops or a Georgian dress and its panniers? I truly want to believe the H/H are too swept up in their emotions to care, but sitting in my living room all I can see is Carol Burnett in her GWTW parody being hit in the face by her hoopskirts as she sat down.

    Reply
  12. While I certainly understand that getting naked was difficult (or rather than getting undressed again was), I always wonder about the scenes where the heroine’s dress is simply bunched up around her waist. Doesn’t it get awfully wrinkled? Do bodily fluids accrue (don’t want to get too specific here)? I’d think it would be harder to hide what you’d done in the back drawing room during the ball in such a case rather than if the outer garments had come off entirely. And how do you push up a Victorian dress and its hoops or a Georgian dress and its panniers? I truly want to believe the H/H are too swept up in their emotions to care, but sitting in my living room all I can see is Carol Burnett in her GWTW parody being hit in the face by her hoopskirts as she sat down.

    Reply
  13. What an interesting blog idea! I’m new here, but very intrigued. Congratulations, ladies, on your first year anniversary.
    The question of what exactly is meant by “naked” is a thorny one. I agree with Loretta and the OED on this one. I do not believe that Georgian people intended the word to mean “without any clothing” but rather “with undergarments.” It is tempting to read primary sources with a jaundiced, 21st century eye and think everyone means “starkers”, but in the context of contemporary literature & letters, most scholars will agree with Loretta, that naked didn’t mean to the skin, only to the linens.
    Interesting that you mention Fanny Hill, Loretta My husband has a very old edition of FANNY HILL c. 1790 with wood engravings that I should think would have been the hardcore pornography of the time. All the “parties” are wearing either their shirts or chemises. Granted, these are falling off, but they’re still technically “dressed.”
    Susan K., love the medieval bath pictures!

    Reply
  14. What an interesting blog idea! I’m new here, but very intrigued. Congratulations, ladies, on your first year anniversary.
    The question of what exactly is meant by “naked” is a thorny one. I agree with Loretta and the OED on this one. I do not believe that Georgian people intended the word to mean “without any clothing” but rather “with undergarments.” It is tempting to read primary sources with a jaundiced, 21st century eye and think everyone means “starkers”, but in the context of contemporary literature & letters, most scholars will agree with Loretta, that naked didn’t mean to the skin, only to the linens.
    Interesting that you mention Fanny Hill, Loretta My husband has a very old edition of FANNY HILL c. 1790 with wood engravings that I should think would have been the hardcore pornography of the time. All the “parties” are wearing either their shirts or chemises. Granted, these are falling off, but they’re still technically “dressed.”
    Susan K., love the medieval bath pictures!

    Reply
  15. What an interesting blog idea! I’m new here, but very intrigued. Congratulations, ladies, on your first year anniversary.
    The question of what exactly is meant by “naked” is a thorny one. I agree with Loretta and the OED on this one. I do not believe that Georgian people intended the word to mean “without any clothing” but rather “with undergarments.” It is tempting to read primary sources with a jaundiced, 21st century eye and think everyone means “starkers”, but in the context of contemporary literature & letters, most scholars will agree with Loretta, that naked didn’t mean to the skin, only to the linens.
    Interesting that you mention Fanny Hill, Loretta My husband has a very old edition of FANNY HILL c. 1790 with wood engravings that I should think would have been the hardcore pornography of the time. All the “parties” are wearing either their shirts or chemises. Granted, these are falling off, but they’re still technically “dressed.”
    Susan K., love the medieval bath pictures!

    Reply
  16. What an interesting blog idea! I’m new here, but very intrigued. Congratulations, ladies, on your first year anniversary.
    The question of what exactly is meant by “naked” is a thorny one. I agree with Loretta and the OED on this one. I do not believe that Georgian people intended the word to mean “without any clothing” but rather “with undergarments.” It is tempting to read primary sources with a jaundiced, 21st century eye and think everyone means “starkers”, but in the context of contemporary literature & letters, most scholars will agree with Loretta, that naked didn’t mean to the skin, only to the linens.
    Interesting that you mention Fanny Hill, Loretta My husband has a very old edition of FANNY HILL c. 1790 with wood engravings that I should think would have been the hardcore pornography of the time. All the “parties” are wearing either their shirts or chemises. Granted, these are falling off, but they’re still technically “dressed.”
    Susan K., love the medieval bath pictures!

    Reply
  17. Several small points come to mind.
    1 The difference between stoves and fireplaces may be because of the fuel. Britian used coal or coke and I believe the continent mainly used wood.
    A coal fire burns very hot indeed.
    2. you have not mentioned slipper baths which were considered to be more luxurious — basically in the shape of a large boot with taps in the toe.
    3. Fitted bathrooms appear from everything I have read/seen in the National Trust to have been more of a male preserve with women more likely to make do with a warm sponge bath.
    4. Having researched saunas/sweat baths for my Vikings, I know that priests felt they were evil and very much discouraged bathing. Thus it did fall out of use in certain Scando countries. Finland did resist.
    5. The production of soap very much led the British Industrial Revolution. 1740 or thereabouts was when it started.
    6 Regency houses are not really that draughty or cold and they did have shutters. The first house we bought was 1826, Grade II listed with many of the original features still there including joy of joys a chair rail. It was quite cosy.
    FWIW
    Michelle Styles

    Reply
  18. Several small points come to mind.
    1 The difference between stoves and fireplaces may be because of the fuel. Britian used coal or coke and I believe the continent mainly used wood.
    A coal fire burns very hot indeed.
    2. you have not mentioned slipper baths which were considered to be more luxurious — basically in the shape of a large boot with taps in the toe.
    3. Fitted bathrooms appear from everything I have read/seen in the National Trust to have been more of a male preserve with women more likely to make do with a warm sponge bath.
    4. Having researched saunas/sweat baths for my Vikings, I know that priests felt they were evil and very much discouraged bathing. Thus it did fall out of use in certain Scando countries. Finland did resist.
    5. The production of soap very much led the British Industrial Revolution. 1740 or thereabouts was when it started.
    6 Regency houses are not really that draughty or cold and they did have shutters. The first house we bought was 1826, Grade II listed with many of the original features still there including joy of joys a chair rail. It was quite cosy.
    FWIW
    Michelle Styles

    Reply
  19. Several small points come to mind.
    1 The difference between stoves and fireplaces may be because of the fuel. Britian used coal or coke and I believe the continent mainly used wood.
    A coal fire burns very hot indeed.
    2. you have not mentioned slipper baths which were considered to be more luxurious — basically in the shape of a large boot with taps in the toe.
    3. Fitted bathrooms appear from everything I have read/seen in the National Trust to have been more of a male preserve with women more likely to make do with a warm sponge bath.
    4. Having researched saunas/sweat baths for my Vikings, I know that priests felt they were evil and very much discouraged bathing. Thus it did fall out of use in certain Scando countries. Finland did resist.
    5. The production of soap very much led the British Industrial Revolution. 1740 or thereabouts was when it started.
    6 Regency houses are not really that draughty or cold and they did have shutters. The first house we bought was 1826, Grade II listed with many of the original features still there including joy of joys a chair rail. It was quite cosy.
    FWIW
    Michelle Styles

    Reply
  20. Several small points come to mind.
    1 The difference between stoves and fireplaces may be because of the fuel. Britian used coal or coke and I believe the continent mainly used wood.
    A coal fire burns very hot indeed.
    2. you have not mentioned slipper baths which were considered to be more luxurious — basically in the shape of a large boot with taps in the toe.
    3. Fitted bathrooms appear from everything I have read/seen in the National Trust to have been more of a male preserve with women more likely to make do with a warm sponge bath.
    4. Having researched saunas/sweat baths for my Vikings, I know that priests felt they were evil and very much discouraged bathing. Thus it did fall out of use in certain Scando countries. Finland did resist.
    5. The production of soap very much led the British Industrial Revolution. 1740 or thereabouts was when it started.
    6 Regency houses are not really that draughty or cold and they did have shutters. The first house we bought was 1826, Grade II listed with many of the original features still there including joy of joys a chair rail. It was quite cosy.
    FWIW
    Michelle Styles

    Reply
  21. Pat Rice, despite Typepad’s attempt to disguise me.
    Since most of our romances these days are set in late Georgian, Regency, or early Victorian, the hoop problem isn’t quite as relevant (I can remember my daughter on prom night with a GWTW skirt and hoop, trying to get into a convertible MG–even Carol Burnett couldn’t beat that for funny!). Panniers weren’t quite the same problem, depending on the era and their materials. But I do shudder to think of what happens to all those frail silks and satins when ruched up around the waist. Much easier to untie them and kick them out of the way!

    Reply
  22. Pat Rice, despite Typepad’s attempt to disguise me.
    Since most of our romances these days are set in late Georgian, Regency, or early Victorian, the hoop problem isn’t quite as relevant (I can remember my daughter on prom night with a GWTW skirt and hoop, trying to get into a convertible MG–even Carol Burnett couldn’t beat that for funny!). Panniers weren’t quite the same problem, depending on the era and their materials. But I do shudder to think of what happens to all those frail silks and satins when ruched up around the waist. Much easier to untie them and kick them out of the way!

    Reply
  23. Pat Rice, despite Typepad’s attempt to disguise me.
    Since most of our romances these days are set in late Georgian, Regency, or early Victorian, the hoop problem isn’t quite as relevant (I can remember my daughter on prom night with a GWTW skirt and hoop, trying to get into a convertible MG–even Carol Burnett couldn’t beat that for funny!). Panniers weren’t quite the same problem, depending on the era and their materials. But I do shudder to think of what happens to all those frail silks and satins when ruched up around the waist. Much easier to untie them and kick them out of the way!

    Reply
  24. Pat Rice, despite Typepad’s attempt to disguise me.
    Since most of our romances these days are set in late Georgian, Regency, or early Victorian, the hoop problem isn’t quite as relevant (I can remember my daughter on prom night with a GWTW skirt and hoop, trying to get into a convertible MG–even Carol Burnett couldn’t beat that for funny!). Panniers weren’t quite the same problem, depending on the era and their materials. But I do shudder to think of what happens to all those frail silks and satins when ruched up around the waist. Much easier to untie them and kick them out of the way!

    Reply
  25. “One thing that’s struck me over this discussion is the persistent gender differences. Female nudity has generally been acceptable when total male nudity isn’t. . .”
    OK, I’m taking a step way out here and painting with a Broad Brush. One of my seminary professors, Margaret R. Miles, has written extensively about bodies, nakedness, and social/religious meanings. (She has a background in art history as well as historical Christianity, and maintains that art is as important as literature in interpreting the social values of the past.)
    I think one of her conclusions is that naked female and male bodies carried different social and religious meanings for historical people–i.e., the naked male body represented virtue, athleticism, purity, Christ-like-ness; whereas the naked female body represented sin, weakness, appetite, pleasure, Temptation. (Of course this is overly simplified for summary purposes.)
    Looked at through this lens it would make sense to me that women’s bodies would need to be covered even from physicians (lest the men be tainted or tempted by their innate sinfulness)AND that nude male athletics or bathing would be seen as virtuous/healthy.
    I do think these themes/social meanings operated powerfully in the lives and imaginations of men and women in the past, whether on a conscious (or “named”) level or not. It’s so hard for us to “get inside their skin” in so many ways.
    Margaret’s book on the topic of nakedness is: “Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West.”

    Reply
  26. “One thing that’s struck me over this discussion is the persistent gender differences. Female nudity has generally been acceptable when total male nudity isn’t. . .”
    OK, I’m taking a step way out here and painting with a Broad Brush. One of my seminary professors, Margaret R. Miles, has written extensively about bodies, nakedness, and social/religious meanings. (She has a background in art history as well as historical Christianity, and maintains that art is as important as literature in interpreting the social values of the past.)
    I think one of her conclusions is that naked female and male bodies carried different social and religious meanings for historical people–i.e., the naked male body represented virtue, athleticism, purity, Christ-like-ness; whereas the naked female body represented sin, weakness, appetite, pleasure, Temptation. (Of course this is overly simplified for summary purposes.)
    Looked at through this lens it would make sense to me that women’s bodies would need to be covered even from physicians (lest the men be tainted or tempted by their innate sinfulness)AND that nude male athletics or bathing would be seen as virtuous/healthy.
    I do think these themes/social meanings operated powerfully in the lives and imaginations of men and women in the past, whether on a conscious (or “named”) level or not. It’s so hard for us to “get inside their skin” in so many ways.
    Margaret’s book on the topic of nakedness is: “Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West.”

    Reply
  27. “One thing that’s struck me over this discussion is the persistent gender differences. Female nudity has generally been acceptable when total male nudity isn’t. . .”
    OK, I’m taking a step way out here and painting with a Broad Brush. One of my seminary professors, Margaret R. Miles, has written extensively about bodies, nakedness, and social/religious meanings. (She has a background in art history as well as historical Christianity, and maintains that art is as important as literature in interpreting the social values of the past.)
    I think one of her conclusions is that naked female and male bodies carried different social and religious meanings for historical people–i.e., the naked male body represented virtue, athleticism, purity, Christ-like-ness; whereas the naked female body represented sin, weakness, appetite, pleasure, Temptation. (Of course this is overly simplified for summary purposes.)
    Looked at through this lens it would make sense to me that women’s bodies would need to be covered even from physicians (lest the men be tainted or tempted by their innate sinfulness)AND that nude male athletics or bathing would be seen as virtuous/healthy.
    I do think these themes/social meanings operated powerfully in the lives and imaginations of men and women in the past, whether on a conscious (or “named”) level or not. It’s so hard for us to “get inside their skin” in so many ways.
    Margaret’s book on the topic of nakedness is: “Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West.”

    Reply
  28. “One thing that’s struck me over this discussion is the persistent gender differences. Female nudity has generally been acceptable when total male nudity isn’t. . .”
    OK, I’m taking a step way out here and painting with a Broad Brush. One of my seminary professors, Margaret R. Miles, has written extensively about bodies, nakedness, and social/religious meanings. (She has a background in art history as well as historical Christianity, and maintains that art is as important as literature in interpreting the social values of the past.)
    I think one of her conclusions is that naked female and male bodies carried different social and religious meanings for historical people–i.e., the naked male body represented virtue, athleticism, purity, Christ-like-ness; whereas the naked female body represented sin, weakness, appetite, pleasure, Temptation. (Of course this is overly simplified for summary purposes.)
    Looked at through this lens it would make sense to me that women’s bodies would need to be covered even from physicians (lest the men be tainted or tempted by their innate sinfulness)AND that nude male athletics or bathing would be seen as virtuous/healthy.
    I do think these themes/social meanings operated powerfully in the lives and imaginations of men and women in the past, whether on a conscious (or “named”) level or not. It’s so hard for us to “get inside their skin” in so many ways.
    Margaret’s book on the topic of nakedness is: “Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West.”

    Reply
  29. Congratulations on your anniversary. What an interesting post. I never thought about it but being naked in an old house without insulation or central heating does not sound very comfortable at all.

    Reply
  30. Congratulations on your anniversary. What an interesting post. I never thought about it but being naked in an old house without insulation or central heating does not sound very comfortable at all.

    Reply
  31. Congratulations on your anniversary. What an interesting post. I never thought about it but being naked in an old house without insulation or central heating does not sound very comfortable at all.

    Reply
  32. Congratulations on your anniversary. What an interesting post. I never thought about it but being naked in an old house without insulation or central heating does not sound very comfortable at all.

    Reply
  33. Great discussion going here. Thanks for the contributions!
    About rucked up skirts, I assume they’d have been fairly creased by general wear anyway and that would be seen as normal, as with linen today. I’m not sure why there’d be a lot of staining, given the layers of shift and petticoat underneath.
    I’m not too clear on Victorian framework, but panniers — the very wide ones used mostly in the early to mid 18th century — were often made so they squished inward. This was necessary for getting through narrow doorways and into sedan chairs.
    The later hoops were also flexible, usually circles of cane, and could be arranged. But this is why they generally did not wear hoops for travel. Instead, they wore a more substantial underskirt to fill out the skirt. Travel dresses were often designed without need for a stiff corset, either.
    Mostly, people in the past tried to arrange matters for good sense and comfort but, as with now, were willing to suffer for beauty and fashion.
    Jo

    Reply
  34. Great discussion going here. Thanks for the contributions!
    About rucked up skirts, I assume they’d have been fairly creased by general wear anyway and that would be seen as normal, as with linen today. I’m not sure why there’d be a lot of staining, given the layers of shift and petticoat underneath.
    I’m not too clear on Victorian framework, but panniers — the very wide ones used mostly in the early to mid 18th century — were often made so they squished inward. This was necessary for getting through narrow doorways and into sedan chairs.
    The later hoops were also flexible, usually circles of cane, and could be arranged. But this is why they generally did not wear hoops for travel. Instead, they wore a more substantial underskirt to fill out the skirt. Travel dresses were often designed without need for a stiff corset, either.
    Mostly, people in the past tried to arrange matters for good sense and comfort but, as with now, were willing to suffer for beauty and fashion.
    Jo

    Reply
  35. Great discussion going here. Thanks for the contributions!
    About rucked up skirts, I assume they’d have been fairly creased by general wear anyway and that would be seen as normal, as with linen today. I’m not sure why there’d be a lot of staining, given the layers of shift and petticoat underneath.
    I’m not too clear on Victorian framework, but panniers — the very wide ones used mostly in the early to mid 18th century — were often made so they squished inward. This was necessary for getting through narrow doorways and into sedan chairs.
    The later hoops were also flexible, usually circles of cane, and could be arranged. But this is why they generally did not wear hoops for travel. Instead, they wore a more substantial underskirt to fill out the skirt. Travel dresses were often designed without need for a stiff corset, either.
    Mostly, people in the past tried to arrange matters for good sense and comfort but, as with now, were willing to suffer for beauty and fashion.
    Jo

    Reply
  36. Great discussion going here. Thanks for the contributions!
    About rucked up skirts, I assume they’d have been fairly creased by general wear anyway and that would be seen as normal, as with linen today. I’m not sure why there’d be a lot of staining, given the layers of shift and petticoat underneath.
    I’m not too clear on Victorian framework, but panniers — the very wide ones used mostly in the early to mid 18th century — were often made so they squished inward. This was necessary for getting through narrow doorways and into sedan chairs.
    The later hoops were also flexible, usually circles of cane, and could be arranged. But this is why they generally did not wear hoops for travel. Instead, they wore a more substantial underskirt to fill out the skirt. Travel dresses were often designed without need for a stiff corset, either.
    Mostly, people in the past tried to arrange matters for good sense and comfort but, as with now, were willing to suffer for beauty and fashion.
    Jo

    Reply
  37. Discussions of the meaning of nakedness always remind me of this poem. I hope you also enjoy it.
    The Naked and the Nude
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.
    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.
    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman’s trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.
    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometimes nude!
    — Robert Graves

    Reply
  38. Discussions of the meaning of nakedness always remind me of this poem. I hope you also enjoy it.
    The Naked and the Nude
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.
    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.
    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman’s trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.
    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometimes nude!
    — Robert Graves

    Reply
  39. Discussions of the meaning of nakedness always remind me of this poem. I hope you also enjoy it.
    The Naked and the Nude
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.
    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.
    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman’s trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.
    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometimes nude!
    — Robert Graves

    Reply
  40. Discussions of the meaning of nakedness always remind me of this poem. I hope you also enjoy it.
    The Naked and the Nude
    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.
    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.
    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman’s trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.
    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometimes nude!
    — Robert Graves

    Reply
  41. Congrats on your anniversary. I don’t think I coulf wear the clothes they wore back then at all. I also don’t think I would like being under the control of a man all the time. Times really have changed. LOL

    Reply
  42. Congrats on your anniversary. I don’t think I coulf wear the clothes they wore back then at all. I also don’t think I would like being under the control of a man all the time. Times really have changed. LOL

    Reply
  43. Congrats on your anniversary. I don’t think I coulf wear the clothes they wore back then at all. I also don’t think I would like being under the control of a man all the time. Times really have changed. LOL

    Reply
  44. Congrats on your anniversary. I don’t think I coulf wear the clothes they wore back then at all. I also don’t think I would like being under the control of a man all the time. Times really have changed. LOL

    Reply
  45. Come to think of it, back in his student days my husband had a neighbor who used to do his laundry by taking a bath with all his clothes on. I don’t know how clean anything got. Would he simply be transferring the dirt from the clothes to the body or vice versa?

    Reply
  46. Come to think of it, back in his student days my husband had a neighbor who used to do his laundry by taking a bath with all his clothes on. I don’t know how clean anything got. Would he simply be transferring the dirt from the clothes to the body or vice versa?

    Reply
  47. Come to think of it, back in his student days my husband had a neighbor who used to do his laundry by taking a bath with all his clothes on. I don’t know how clean anything got. Would he simply be transferring the dirt from the clothes to the body or vice versa?

    Reply
  48. Come to think of it, back in his student days my husband had a neighbor who used to do his laundry by taking a bath with all his clothes on. I don’t know how clean anything got. Would he simply be transferring the dirt from the clothes to the body or vice versa?

    Reply
  49. Jo wrote:
    For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe.
    Back to me:
    I didn’t know that some English people used them. They’re so prominent in central Europe but I don’t recall ever seeing them in England. Was it more common in the colder areas? Or did families with strong Germanic ties use them?
    -Michelle

    Reply
  50. Jo wrote:
    For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe.
    Back to me:
    I didn’t know that some English people used them. They’re so prominent in central Europe but I don’t recall ever seeing them in England. Was it more common in the colder areas? Or did families with strong Germanic ties use them?
    -Michelle

    Reply
  51. Jo wrote:
    For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe.
    Back to me:
    I didn’t know that some English people used them. They’re so prominent in central Europe but I don’t recall ever seeing them in England. Was it more common in the colder areas? Or did families with strong Germanic ties use them?
    -Michelle

    Reply
  52. Jo wrote:
    For some reason, the English resisted the tiled heating stoves in rooms. They did use them, but not as the norm, but they’re so practical and were common enough in Europe.
    Back to me:
    I didn’t know that some English people used them. They’re so prominent in central Europe but I don’t recall ever seeing them in England. Was it more common in the colder areas? Or did families with strong Germanic ties use them?
    -Michelle

    Reply
  53. A most fascinating discussion. Kimberly’s remark about not being able to wear what they wore back then sparked a long train of thought, beginning with the always-astonishing recollection that each and every one of us had ancestors alive in any given year of history! Therefore it follows that they suffered the torments of every style throughout history and I’m sure we would have survived as well as they did.
    Secondly, discomfort is, I think, relative. One has only to contemplate how many centuries passed with almost everyone using seats with no backs; if they had been as uncomfortable as we would be with such furniture, I’m positive seats with backs would have come into fashion much MUCH sooner. Same goes for the level of stink that would have been acceptable.
    What I mostly cringe at is the lack of TP (let’s not even GO there) and (much less important but still obtrusive) conditioner for the hair. When I read about some Regency belle with shining silky locks I always think “oh, sure.” Frizz, that’s what they would have had if their hair was clean. The whole subject has a real yuck factor for me.
    To give a nod toward the main point of this week’s blogging, I seem to recall reading somewhere that in medieval times, though day dress was quite concealing, people stripped to the skin before getting into bed. Given the lack of central heating, I’m not sure I actually believe this, but on the other hand in an era when a woman might own only two or three dresses, it would make sense that there was no money wasted on mere nightwear.
    In spite of what I said about discomfort being a matter of what one is used to, I still kind of pity my poor ancestors their living conditions. No blogs!

    Reply
  54. A most fascinating discussion. Kimberly’s remark about not being able to wear what they wore back then sparked a long train of thought, beginning with the always-astonishing recollection that each and every one of us had ancestors alive in any given year of history! Therefore it follows that they suffered the torments of every style throughout history and I’m sure we would have survived as well as they did.
    Secondly, discomfort is, I think, relative. One has only to contemplate how many centuries passed with almost everyone using seats with no backs; if they had been as uncomfortable as we would be with such furniture, I’m positive seats with backs would have come into fashion much MUCH sooner. Same goes for the level of stink that would have been acceptable.
    What I mostly cringe at is the lack of TP (let’s not even GO there) and (much less important but still obtrusive) conditioner for the hair. When I read about some Regency belle with shining silky locks I always think “oh, sure.” Frizz, that’s what they would have had if their hair was clean. The whole subject has a real yuck factor for me.
    To give a nod toward the main point of this week’s blogging, I seem to recall reading somewhere that in medieval times, though day dress was quite concealing, people stripped to the skin before getting into bed. Given the lack of central heating, I’m not sure I actually believe this, but on the other hand in an era when a woman might own only two or three dresses, it would make sense that there was no money wasted on mere nightwear.
    In spite of what I said about discomfort being a matter of what one is used to, I still kind of pity my poor ancestors their living conditions. No blogs!

    Reply
  55. A most fascinating discussion. Kimberly’s remark about not being able to wear what they wore back then sparked a long train of thought, beginning with the always-astonishing recollection that each and every one of us had ancestors alive in any given year of history! Therefore it follows that they suffered the torments of every style throughout history and I’m sure we would have survived as well as they did.
    Secondly, discomfort is, I think, relative. One has only to contemplate how many centuries passed with almost everyone using seats with no backs; if they had been as uncomfortable as we would be with such furniture, I’m positive seats with backs would have come into fashion much MUCH sooner. Same goes for the level of stink that would have been acceptable.
    What I mostly cringe at is the lack of TP (let’s not even GO there) and (much less important but still obtrusive) conditioner for the hair. When I read about some Regency belle with shining silky locks I always think “oh, sure.” Frizz, that’s what they would have had if their hair was clean. The whole subject has a real yuck factor for me.
    To give a nod toward the main point of this week’s blogging, I seem to recall reading somewhere that in medieval times, though day dress was quite concealing, people stripped to the skin before getting into bed. Given the lack of central heating, I’m not sure I actually believe this, but on the other hand in an era when a woman might own only two or three dresses, it would make sense that there was no money wasted on mere nightwear.
    In spite of what I said about discomfort being a matter of what one is used to, I still kind of pity my poor ancestors their living conditions. No blogs!

    Reply
  56. A most fascinating discussion. Kimberly’s remark about not being able to wear what they wore back then sparked a long train of thought, beginning with the always-astonishing recollection that each and every one of us had ancestors alive in any given year of history! Therefore it follows that they suffered the torments of every style throughout history and I’m sure we would have survived as well as they did.
    Secondly, discomfort is, I think, relative. One has only to contemplate how many centuries passed with almost everyone using seats with no backs; if they had been as uncomfortable as we would be with such furniture, I’m positive seats with backs would have come into fashion much MUCH sooner. Same goes for the level of stink that would have been acceptable.
    What I mostly cringe at is the lack of TP (let’s not even GO there) and (much less important but still obtrusive) conditioner for the hair. When I read about some Regency belle with shining silky locks I always think “oh, sure.” Frizz, that’s what they would have had if their hair was clean. The whole subject has a real yuck factor for me.
    To give a nod toward the main point of this week’s blogging, I seem to recall reading somewhere that in medieval times, though day dress was quite concealing, people stripped to the skin before getting into bed. Given the lack of central heating, I’m not sure I actually believe this, but on the other hand in an era when a woman might own only two or three dresses, it would make sense that there was no money wasted on mere nightwear.
    In spite of what I said about discomfort being a matter of what one is used to, I still kind of pity my poor ancestors their living conditions. No blogs!

    Reply
  57. Actually Elaine, I expect most of us mostly have ancestors who did not bother with styles. Just affording clothes and shoes will have been difficult enough, and they needed clothes they could work in. Real hard physical work.
    And as to frizz, that’s an unheard of problem to us straight-haired women!

    Reply
  58. Actually Elaine, I expect most of us mostly have ancestors who did not bother with styles. Just affording clothes and shoes will have been difficult enough, and they needed clothes they could work in. Real hard physical work.
    And as to frizz, that’s an unheard of problem to us straight-haired women!

    Reply
  59. Actually Elaine, I expect most of us mostly have ancestors who did not bother with styles. Just affording clothes and shoes will have been difficult enough, and they needed clothes they could work in. Real hard physical work.
    And as to frizz, that’s an unheard of problem to us straight-haired women!

    Reply
  60. Actually Elaine, I expect most of us mostly have ancestors who did not bother with styles. Just affording clothes and shoes will have been difficult enough, and they needed clothes they could work in. Real hard physical work.
    And as to frizz, that’s an unheard of problem to us straight-haired women!

    Reply
  61. Re hair, Elaine, recipe books of the period are full of beauty aids, so it ain’t necessarily friz. Also, they didn’t wash their hair nearly as frequently, which may seem icky to us, but is undoubtedly better for the condition of the hair.
    They brushed it a lot with bristle brushes, and that’s apparently being recommended again now.
    Some things that have long been known as good for hair are beer, especially for dark hair; egg, for shine and condition; and chamomile for blond hair.
    People used to laugh at them for using crushed strawberries for the complexion, but now we know the chemicals in some fruit are excellent for it.
    Perhaps we should do a blog on potions one day.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  62. Re hair, Elaine, recipe books of the period are full of beauty aids, so it ain’t necessarily friz. Also, they didn’t wash their hair nearly as frequently, which may seem icky to us, but is undoubtedly better for the condition of the hair.
    They brushed it a lot with bristle brushes, and that’s apparently being recommended again now.
    Some things that have long been known as good for hair are beer, especially for dark hair; egg, for shine and condition; and chamomile for blond hair.
    People used to laugh at them for using crushed strawberries for the complexion, but now we know the chemicals in some fruit are excellent for it.
    Perhaps we should do a blog on potions one day.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  63. Re hair, Elaine, recipe books of the period are full of beauty aids, so it ain’t necessarily friz. Also, they didn’t wash their hair nearly as frequently, which may seem icky to us, but is undoubtedly better for the condition of the hair.
    They brushed it a lot with bristle brushes, and that’s apparently being recommended again now.
    Some things that have long been known as good for hair are beer, especially for dark hair; egg, for shine and condition; and chamomile for blond hair.
    People used to laugh at them for using crushed strawberries for the complexion, but now we know the chemicals in some fruit are excellent for it.
    Perhaps we should do a blog on potions one day.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  64. Re hair, Elaine, recipe books of the period are full of beauty aids, so it ain’t necessarily friz. Also, they didn’t wash their hair nearly as frequently, which may seem icky to us, but is undoubtedly better for the condition of the hair.
    They brushed it a lot with bristle brushes, and that’s apparently being recommended again now.
    Some things that have long been known as good for hair are beer, especially for dark hair; egg, for shine and condition; and chamomile for blond hair.
    People used to laugh at them for using crushed strawberries for the complexion, but now we know the chemicals in some fruit are excellent for it.
    Perhaps we should do a blog on potions one day.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  65. I agree with Jo, those skirts were probably already wrinkled before they got rucked up.
    I’m not a stickler of accuracy to this degree in my romance fiction reading, let those lords and ladies romp naked as they will, lol.

    Reply
  66. I agree with Jo, those skirts were probably already wrinkled before they got rucked up.
    I’m not a stickler of accuracy to this degree in my romance fiction reading, let those lords and ladies romp naked as they will, lol.

    Reply
  67. I agree with Jo, those skirts were probably already wrinkled before they got rucked up.
    I’m not a stickler of accuracy to this degree in my romance fiction reading, let those lords and ladies romp naked as they will, lol.

    Reply
  68. I agree with Jo, those skirts were probably already wrinkled before they got rucked up.
    I’m not a stickler of accuracy to this degree in my romance fiction reading, let those lords and ladies romp naked as they will, lol.

    Reply
  69. In the Regency period, people used soap to wash their bodies. Did they use the same soap on their hair? Was it cake soap, liquid, or powder?
    Jo:
    Beer and raw eggs sounds like a horrific concoction. What a stink. Then again, as you Wenches have pointed out, smell is as smell does. Their olfactory nerves were deadened to those particular stinks.
    Melinda:
    Thanks for bringing up religious views of nakedness. I confess, I took the easier route in my WIP by not having including any religious connotations, but now I’m having second thoughts.
    Jo:
    “I do wonder if allowing men to conceal their privacy, we’re letting them have an unequal advantage.”
    I think so, and the practice is pervasive even today. On formal occasions, men wear suits covering themselves up to their chins, whereas women don scraps of cloth. This objectifies the women, with their full complicity, as things to be seen, admired, gossipped about, but not to be taken seriously as equals.

    Reply
  70. In the Regency period, people used soap to wash their bodies. Did they use the same soap on their hair? Was it cake soap, liquid, or powder?
    Jo:
    Beer and raw eggs sounds like a horrific concoction. What a stink. Then again, as you Wenches have pointed out, smell is as smell does. Their olfactory nerves were deadened to those particular stinks.
    Melinda:
    Thanks for bringing up religious views of nakedness. I confess, I took the easier route in my WIP by not having including any religious connotations, but now I’m having second thoughts.
    Jo:
    “I do wonder if allowing men to conceal their privacy, we’re letting them have an unequal advantage.”
    I think so, and the practice is pervasive even today. On formal occasions, men wear suits covering themselves up to their chins, whereas women don scraps of cloth. This objectifies the women, with their full complicity, as things to be seen, admired, gossipped about, but not to be taken seriously as equals.

    Reply
  71. In the Regency period, people used soap to wash their bodies. Did they use the same soap on their hair? Was it cake soap, liquid, or powder?
    Jo:
    Beer and raw eggs sounds like a horrific concoction. What a stink. Then again, as you Wenches have pointed out, smell is as smell does. Their olfactory nerves were deadened to those particular stinks.
    Melinda:
    Thanks for bringing up religious views of nakedness. I confess, I took the easier route in my WIP by not having including any religious connotations, but now I’m having second thoughts.
    Jo:
    “I do wonder if allowing men to conceal their privacy, we’re letting them have an unequal advantage.”
    I think so, and the practice is pervasive even today. On formal occasions, men wear suits covering themselves up to their chins, whereas women don scraps of cloth. This objectifies the women, with their full complicity, as things to be seen, admired, gossipped about, but not to be taken seriously as equals.

    Reply
  72. In the Regency period, people used soap to wash their bodies. Did they use the same soap on their hair? Was it cake soap, liquid, or powder?
    Jo:
    Beer and raw eggs sounds like a horrific concoction. What a stink. Then again, as you Wenches have pointed out, smell is as smell does. Their olfactory nerves were deadened to those particular stinks.
    Melinda:
    Thanks for bringing up religious views of nakedness. I confess, I took the easier route in my WIP by not having including any religious connotations, but now I’m having second thoughts.
    Jo:
    “I do wonder if allowing men to conceal their privacy, we’re letting them have an unequal advantage.”
    I think so, and the practice is pervasive even today. On formal occasions, men wear suits covering themselves up to their chins, whereas women don scraps of cloth. This objectifies the women, with their full complicity, as things to be seen, admired, gossipped about, but not to be taken seriously as equals.

    Reply
  73. Kiera,
    interesting point on social dress. Yes. And if we go back to the middle ages we find little difference between men and women in daily and fine dressing as far as body exposure goes.
    When did it change? Quite possibly the main shift was in the Regency, when male clothing became solid and dark and female lighter and more revealing. The classical look did not shift men back into togas. I wonder how that fits into social change.
    Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?
    Jo

    Reply
  74. Kiera,
    interesting point on social dress. Yes. And if we go back to the middle ages we find little difference between men and women in daily and fine dressing as far as body exposure goes.
    When did it change? Quite possibly the main shift was in the Regency, when male clothing became solid and dark and female lighter and more revealing. The classical look did not shift men back into togas. I wonder how that fits into social change.
    Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?
    Jo

    Reply
  75. Kiera,
    interesting point on social dress. Yes. And if we go back to the middle ages we find little difference between men and women in daily and fine dressing as far as body exposure goes.
    When did it change? Quite possibly the main shift was in the Regency, when male clothing became solid and dark and female lighter and more revealing. The classical look did not shift men back into togas. I wonder how that fits into social change.
    Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?
    Jo

    Reply
  76. Kiera,
    interesting point on social dress. Yes. And if we go back to the middle ages we find little difference between men and women in daily and fine dressing as far as body exposure goes.
    When did it change? Quite possibly the main shift was in the Regency, when male clothing became solid and dark and female lighter and more revealing. The classical look did not shift men back into togas. I wonder how that fits into social change.
    Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?
    Jo

    Reply
  77. I didn’t mean that beer and raw eggs were used together, though they could be.
    Vinegar was another common one, and helped get rid of soap residue. Nearly all fine regency soap was soft soap, as I understand it. The solid stuff was harsh.
    Jo

    Reply
  78. I didn’t mean that beer and raw eggs were used together, though they could be.
    Vinegar was another common one, and helped get rid of soap residue. Nearly all fine regency soap was soft soap, as I understand it. The solid stuff was harsh.
    Jo

    Reply
  79. I didn’t mean that beer and raw eggs were used together, though they could be.
    Vinegar was another common one, and helped get rid of soap residue. Nearly all fine regency soap was soft soap, as I understand it. The solid stuff was harsh.
    Jo

    Reply
  80. I didn’t mean that beer and raw eggs were used together, though they could be.
    Vinegar was another common one, and helped get rid of soap residue. Nearly all fine regency soap was soft soap, as I understand it. The solid stuff was harsh.
    Jo

    Reply
  81. In fact, even in the early Georgian period, men were just as pompously and colorfully dressed up as women.
    Jo said, “Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?”
    OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.
    Then there’s Seattle fighting these days for men and women equally to have co-ed nude events: bike rides, open-air swimming, etc. etc. 🙂

    Reply
  82. In fact, even in the early Georgian period, men were just as pompously and colorfully dressed up as women.
    Jo said, “Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?”
    OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.
    Then there’s Seattle fighting these days for men and women equally to have co-ed nude events: bike rides, open-air swimming, etc. etc. 🙂

    Reply
  83. In fact, even in the early Georgian period, men were just as pompously and colorfully dressed up as women.
    Jo said, “Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?”
    OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.
    Then there’s Seattle fighting these days for men and women equally to have co-ed nude events: bike rides, open-air swimming, etc. etc. 🙂

    Reply
  84. In fact, even in the early Georgian period, men were just as pompously and colorfully dressed up as women.
    Jo said, “Could it have anything to do with the rising movement for women’s rights?”
    OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.
    Then there’s Seattle fighting these days for men and women equally to have co-ed nude events: bike rides, open-air swimming, etc. etc. 🙂

    Reply
  85. “OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.”
    Don’t know if anyone’s still reading here, but I see the germ of an interesting theory.
    Proposed — that as long as women seem to “know their place”, they get to dress without exposing themselves. As soon as they assert equality, fashion makes them overt sex objects.
    I believe the early Victorian dress was generally rational, allowing for wide skirts and such, and the torture corsets came in later in the century, with the pinched in waist and the S curve bodice and bustle at the least forcing the body into an unnatural shape, and possibly one that emphasised bust and bum.
    WWI increased the demand for the vote and other equality measures, and soon the skirts are up to the knees.
    After WWII, when many women worked at men’s jobs, the “new look” put them in pinched waists, thrusting bras, and high heeled shoes.
    In the ’60s, it was let it all hang out and free love.
    What do you think?
    Jo

    Reply
  86. “OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.”
    Don’t know if anyone’s still reading here, but I see the germ of an interesting theory.
    Proposed — that as long as women seem to “know their place”, they get to dress without exposing themselves. As soon as they assert equality, fashion makes them overt sex objects.
    I believe the early Victorian dress was generally rational, allowing for wide skirts and such, and the torture corsets came in later in the century, with the pinched in waist and the S curve bodice and bustle at the least forcing the body into an unnatural shape, and possibly one that emphasised bust and bum.
    WWI increased the demand for the vote and other equality measures, and soon the skirts are up to the knees.
    After WWII, when many women worked at men’s jobs, the “new look” put them in pinched waists, thrusting bras, and high heeled shoes.
    In the ’60s, it was let it all hang out and free love.
    What do you think?
    Jo

    Reply
  87. “OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.”
    Don’t know if anyone’s still reading here, but I see the germ of an interesting theory.
    Proposed — that as long as women seem to “know their place”, they get to dress without exposing themselves. As soon as they assert equality, fashion makes them overt sex objects.
    I believe the early Victorian dress was generally rational, allowing for wide skirts and such, and the torture corsets came in later in the century, with the pinched in waist and the S curve bodice and bustle at the least forcing the body into an unnatural shape, and possibly one that emphasised bust and bum.
    WWI increased the demand for the vote and other equality measures, and soon the skirts are up to the knees.
    After WWII, when many women worked at men’s jobs, the “new look” put them in pinched waists, thrusting bras, and high heeled shoes.
    In the ’60s, it was let it all hang out and free love.
    What do you think?
    Jo

    Reply
  88. “OOooh! That would be such a tough pill to swallow, wouldn’t it? Here we’re talking of women’s right to equality, and then the women allow themselves to be put on display. We have that decadent Regency period, then back to the well “respectful” Victorian, then we move forward irrevocably to more and more display. Neither the suffraigists nor the feminists complained about this.”
    Don’t know if anyone’s still reading here, but I see the germ of an interesting theory.
    Proposed — that as long as women seem to “know their place”, they get to dress without exposing themselves. As soon as they assert equality, fashion makes them overt sex objects.
    I believe the early Victorian dress was generally rational, allowing for wide skirts and such, and the torture corsets came in later in the century, with the pinched in waist and the S curve bodice and bustle at the least forcing the body into an unnatural shape, and possibly one that emphasised bust and bum.
    WWI increased the demand for the vote and other equality measures, and soon the skirts are up to the knees.
    After WWII, when many women worked at men’s jobs, the “new look” put them in pinched waists, thrusting bras, and high heeled shoes.
    In the ’60s, it was let it all hang out and free love.
    What do you think?
    Jo

    Reply
  89. Back to the nude-or-not bathing issue: could the lack of privacy have had anything to do with it? Upper- and middle-class women having servants helping them to bathe, and coming in and out to make up the fire and so on? Besides, of course, the whole Christian (especially Puritan) thing of bodies being something to be ashamed of – and most especially female bodies.

    Reply
  90. Back to the nude-or-not bathing issue: could the lack of privacy have had anything to do with it? Upper- and middle-class women having servants helping them to bathe, and coming in and out to make up the fire and so on? Besides, of course, the whole Christian (especially Puritan) thing of bodies being something to be ashamed of – and most especially female bodies.

    Reply
  91. Back to the nude-or-not bathing issue: could the lack of privacy have had anything to do with it? Upper- and middle-class women having servants helping them to bathe, and coming in and out to make up the fire and so on? Besides, of course, the whole Christian (especially Puritan) thing of bodies being something to be ashamed of – and most especially female bodies.

    Reply
  92. Back to the nude-or-not bathing issue: could the lack of privacy have had anything to do with it? Upper- and middle-class women having servants helping them to bathe, and coming in and out to make up the fire and so on? Besides, of course, the whole Christian (especially Puritan) thing of bodies being something to be ashamed of – and most especially female bodies.

    Reply
  93. I enjoyed your page on wenches , all of you are delightful writers. I love to be without clothes on. Been doing it for years and years, am almost 71 years old , not the figure of my youth but am on the fifth floor of an apartment building so i do as i please, Very comfortable and happy i am . Thank you ladies for your great stories , please do your best to keep on writing. Your great admirer, BJF

    Reply
  94. I enjoyed your page on wenches , all of you are delightful writers. I love to be without clothes on. Been doing it for years and years, am almost 71 years old , not the figure of my youth but am on the fifth floor of an apartment building so i do as i please, Very comfortable and happy i am . Thank you ladies for your great stories , please do your best to keep on writing. Your great admirer, BJF

    Reply
  95. I enjoyed your page on wenches , all of you are delightful writers. I love to be without clothes on. Been doing it for years and years, am almost 71 years old , not the figure of my youth but am on the fifth floor of an apartment building so i do as i please, Very comfortable and happy i am . Thank you ladies for your great stories , please do your best to keep on writing. Your great admirer, BJF

    Reply
  96. I enjoyed your page on wenches , all of you are delightful writers. I love to be without clothes on. Been doing it for years and years, am almost 71 years old , not the figure of my youth but am on the fifth floor of an apartment building so i do as i please, Very comfortable and happy i am . Thank you ladies for your great stories , please do your best to keep on writing. Your great admirer, BJF

    Reply
  97. Hi there! Love this topic! And reading all the replies! I remember mostly with the wearing of the shift when bathing. Being it in a room tub (Basin) or in water (lake) nearby. I just know if I was wearing all that heavy clothing, that I’d need to bathe more often than the stories tell! (or don’t tell) LOL

    Reply
  98. Hi there! Love this topic! And reading all the replies! I remember mostly with the wearing of the shift when bathing. Being it in a room tub (Basin) or in water (lake) nearby. I just know if I was wearing all that heavy clothing, that I’d need to bathe more often than the stories tell! (or don’t tell) LOL

    Reply
  99. Hi there! Love this topic! And reading all the replies! I remember mostly with the wearing of the shift when bathing. Being it in a room tub (Basin) or in water (lake) nearby. I just know if I was wearing all that heavy clothing, that I’d need to bathe more often than the stories tell! (or don’t tell) LOL

    Reply
  100. Hi there! Love this topic! And reading all the replies! I remember mostly with the wearing of the shift when bathing. Being it in a room tub (Basin) or in water (lake) nearby. I just know if I was wearing all that heavy clothing, that I’d need to bathe more often than the stories tell! (or don’t tell) LOL

    Reply

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