Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a woman in medieval times? No, let me rephrase: Have you ever wondered how women treated their periods in the medieval…uhm, period? Think about it. There were no tampons or maxi pads to soak up the monthly seepage and cotton was a high commodity. So if you weren’t part of a noble family, and most of us probably wouldn’t be, we would’ve been forced to think of creative solutions like moss and well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers!
Karen Harris and Lori Caskey-Sigety’s book The Medieval Vagina explains this and other historical fun facts about how women and their vaginas were desired yet repulsed, but altogether controlled in a male-dominated society.
As women were considered the weaker sex and insignificant, even though they were designed to birth another human being, men were the ones whom had all of the political power. Back then, that meant having the power of pen and paper so writing about women’s plights was not at the top of their list. The Medieval Vagina offers a condensed peek into this era on subjects on virginity, menstruation, health, childbirth, birth control, crime and punishment, the arts, and other oddities that will make one chuckle and gasp in disbelief.
The book was birthed (pun intended) through Harris’ master thesis project. That, paired with consultations between her and Sigety brought forth a collection of research that brings to light that “although the Middle Ages was a male-dominated era, there was no escaping the mysterious allure and frightening repulsion of this unique, multi-functional, feminine organ” (Harris and Sigety) that is the vagina.
So, to both women and men, if you have always wondered how women and their “multi-functional” organ got along in the days where CVS or Walgreens didn’t exist to shop for sanitary napkins and various feminine hygiene products, condoms, pregnancy test, birth control etc., and don’t feel like paying a university to study women’s issues…well here’s a nice 153-page cheat-sheet to… peek into: The Medieval Vagina!