Friday, November 19, 2010

Flirting with Danger

Another interesting snippet of history for you today.
"Dalliance-Playful flirtation; amorous play" -Henry Fielding, 1749

Ancient Courtship
In ancient times, many of the first marriages were by capture, not choice - when there were few young women to choose from at home, men raided other villages for wives. Often the the clan from which a warrior stole his bride would chase after them, especially if the woman was attractive and could be bartered for a more favorable marriage that would bring wealth to the family. Sometimes it was necessary for the warrior and his new bride to go into hiding for a while. According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey--hence we have the word--honeymoon.
Okay picture this--you're drunk in a cave with a smelly man you've never met before and this dude says you're his wife.
17th Century Courtship
Bundling was a 16th and 17th century custom that allowed courting couples to share a bed, fully clothed, with a "bundling board" between them. In addition they tied a bolster cover over the girls' legs (to insure they remained properly closed.) The idea was to let couples get to know each other in privacy under the supervision of the girl's family.
I'm thinking about being tied all night next to some of the less articulate and more obnoxious men I've dated. Ugh!
In the Nordic countries they had an interesting custom that involved knives. When a girl came of age, her father presented her with a belt holding an empty knife sheath. She wore that to signify she was available. When a man decided he wanted her, he sheathed his knife in her belt, announcing she was taken. 
Wonder if any of the girls ever just skipped the preliminaries and cut the guy's throat?
1859 Definition of Courtship
"The females role in courtship is that of the hunted animal who lures her pursuer, not with the purpose of escaping, but in order to be finally caught. The male's role is to capture the female, overcoming her resistance by force if necessary."
Lovely definition of a 1980's bodice ripper.
I don't know about you, but after reading about our ancestors' courtship practices, I'm rather fond of today's standard pick up line--"Can I buy you a beer?"

Visit me @ Gem's Place for passionate western romance.


Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, Gem, I love this history post! Thanks.

Gotta kinda wonder why Bodice Rippers are being ripped on, though??? These days. Given there would be 'no' romance novel industry, as it is today, without them. Bertrice Small, famous romance author during that time and still going/selling strong, wrote about that *history* in the November RWR from Romance Writers of America.

Where there's this much smoke... where's the fire? and why? New trend...?

Beer or Bodice Ripper... hmmm.... if I dare say my choice in this current atmosphere, I'll be pummeled by someone, and not in a good way.

Hailey Edwards said...

Bundling? While that could be oh-so-sexy, you're right. My luck would land me tied up next to someone I'd rather chew through that bolster cover than spend the night next to.

Gem Sivad said...

Savanna, I have to admit, there is something about the take-charge alpha male that brings out the sensuous side of me. I love a man who can make me feel like a woman.

On the other hand, I only want to be with who I want to be with...forced seduction just doesn't get it for me :)

Gem Sivad said...

Hailey, I can't see me making it through an hour let alone a night. Yep, the teeth would get a workout for sure if that was all I had to get free.


Savanna Kougar said...

I think that's often the confusion. Forced seduction in a romance novel is most generally only between a man and woman who truly desire each other, or the heroine discovers her desire for the hero during the encounter. Or, both of them do.
No, it's not always that clear cut. And, it isn't always that way.
However, I will say I see some hypocrisy.
There's this thing against so-called bodice rippers, yet I see the same kind of scenes playing out, only they're now called something else... whether the term 'forced seduction' is used, or now feeling 'captured' is being used.

And, honestly, what some consider romantic and erotic encounters doesn't do it for me, either. We're all different.

I'm the same way. I only want to be with who I want to be with. I can't stand it if a guy touches me who I don't want. At the same time, yeah, I like feeling captured... but only by the right man. And, no, don't ask me out for a beer. Hate the stuff, unless it's homemade or micro-brewed. But, yeah, capture me on the dance floor.

Gem Sivad said...

See--we agree! :)