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I omitted several terms, from Rip Van Winkle, that were saved for this week's theme, "Domineering Women".

We'll use the first to end Rip's tale. In the two decades he slept, the country has had a revolutionary war, and (perhaps more importantly) his hen-pecking wife has died.
    It was some time before he … could be made to comprehend the strange events that had taken place during his torpor. How that there had been a revolutionary war—that the country had thrown off the yoke of old England—and that, instead of being a subject of his Majesty, George III., he was now a free citizen of the United States. Rip, in fact, was no politician; the changes of states and empires made but little impression on him; but there was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, and that was—petticoat government; happily, that was at an end; he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle.
So Rip's tale teaches the benefits of getting drunk; and as the author notes in conclusion, "it is a common wish of all henpecked husbands in the neighborhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands, that they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle’s flagon."

petticoat government – rule by, or undue predominance or influence of women in domestic, political, or public life

Freud wrote that America's attempt to ban alcoholic beverages was "obviously under the influence of petticoat government." (The Future of an Illusion, in The Freud Reader) But another author gives a different perspective on female rule:
    A little more petticoat government and perhaps countries would not so easily become involved in wars that bring bereavement and tragedy to so many families.
    – Jean Plaidy, Victoria Victorious: The Story of Queen Victoria
 
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rule by, or undue predominance or influence of women in domestic, political, or public life

Huh. They are implying this is a bad thing?

I'm confused!


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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A little more petticoat government and perhaps countries would not so easily become involved in wars that bring bereavement and tragedy to so many families.

Yeah, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Maggie Thatcher, and Benazir Bhutto were all dainty little petticoatians who abhorred war and made peace ... sheesh.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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harpy1. a grasping, unscrupulous woman 2. a shrewish woman
[from monsters in Greek myth, half woman and half bird of prey
    In an instant, Pat could transform from a docile, dependent, childlike woman into a demanding, screaming harpy. On one occasion she suggested that she and Jake have a quiet lunch together. But when Jake told her he had to go to the office, she suddenly began screaming at him, inches from his face … . She viciously attacked his manhood, his failures as a husband and father, and his profession.
    – Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, I Hate You, Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality
 
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Is today's word entirely negative? See quote.

termagant – an or overbearing, quarrelsome or nagging woman
[an eponym: from the made-up name of a Muslim deity in medieval morality plays. Some say that that name derives from Italian Trivagante ‘thrice-wandering’.]

Fire can destroy – or it can forge steel. A special joy in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is to see how the fires of war change Scarlett. Her sisters cannot grow; they remain flighty frivolous southern belles, and are destroyed. But Scarlett, under adversity, becomes a strong, determined woman.

Here is a key scene:
    . . ."I won't work in the fields like a darky! You can't make me. …. Oh, if Mother knew about this–"
    . . ."You just mention Mother's name once more, Suellen O'Hara, and I'll slap you flat," cried Scarlett. "Mother worked harder than any darky on this place and you known it, Miss Fine Airs!"
    . . ."She did not! … And you can't make me. I'll tell Papa on you and he won't make me work!
    . . ."Don't you dare go bothering Pa with any of our troubles!" cried Scarlett … .
    . . .Carreen … had been silent, a little dazed since she came back to consciousness and found Ellen gone, Scarlett a termagant, the world changed and unceasing labor the order of the day. It was not in Carreen's delicate nature to adjust herself to change. She simply could not comprehend what had happened and she went about Tara like a sleepwalker, doing exactly what she was told.
    – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
 
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Whether a word is negative or positive depends upon the conjugation, viz.:

"I'm resolute, you're stubborn, he's pigheaded."

Or:

"Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow."


RJA
 
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virago – a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.
[Latin, 'heroic- or warrior-woman,' from vir 'man'. Used as the name given by Adam to Eve in the Vulgate (Latin) version of the Bible]
    Shakespeare's Joan [of Arc, in Henry VI] is … bawdy and unpleasant in certain scenes, courageous and direct in others … Why should she not be both a diabolic whore and a political-military leader of peasant genius? Strident and shrewish, she gets results … As a roaring girl, she has her own rancid charm … Joan is a virago, a warrior far more cunning than the bully boy Talbot ...
    – Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
 
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Perhaps these term reflect a pervasive contempt for women in older England. One is struck by the casual barbarity women suffered at the hands of their husbands and their male neighbors. Consider the branks (developed in the late 1500s) and the cucking stool (about three centuries older).
    "Someone fetch me a branks to muzzle this scold!" The men laughed drunkenly, and the fear rose in me. I saw my mother's face framed in the iron bars, the desperate look in her wild eyes, the inhuman sounds that came from her throat as the iron bit pressed hard against her tongue. He had clapped the branks on her after she cursed him in public for his constant drunkenness. She had worn the helmet a night and a day as my father led her around, taunting her, yanking hard on the chain so that the iron sliced her tongue.
    – Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders
branks (sometimes brank) – a metal cage for the head, often with a metal bit attached to restrain the tongue, formerly used to punish scolds (also called scold's bridle)

cucking stool – a tool for punishing scolds and others. It was chair (often with a hole like a toilet seat, suitable for that use). The victim was tied and either set out for public ridicule or ducked in a river or pond.
[cuck "to defecate" (may also include urinate), from Old Norse kuka "feces".]
[Also known as a trebucket, but that term has further meanings.]
    Do you think there may be a fine new cucking-stool at the Fair, to be purchased; one large enough for her, I mean? I know there is a pond of capacity for her.
    – Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair

    The village is a huddle of small houses, quite small, in fact, with no more than two rooms, a door, two windows, a chimney seldom. … At the nearest pond, but not in sight, is the cucking stool for women offenders, the wantons, the walking morts, the scolds.
    – Thomas B. Costain, The Conquering Family
    (mort – old term for a promiscuous female or a prostitute)

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I omitted several terms, from Rip Van Winkle, that were saved for this week's theme, "Domineering Women".
I can't wait for the "Domineering Men" theme!
quote:
Yeah, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Maggie Thatcher, and Benazir Bhutto were all dainty little petticoatians who abhorred war and made peace ... sheesh.
Ya know, you got me thinking, z. Surely you are right. Yet, I'd always thought that women leaders would be more peaceful. Perhaps I am wrong. I do think women tend to be less violent and more peaceful (am I nuts?). Given that stance (and surely it could be wrong), maybe the variable is that those who pursue powerful positions, be they men or women, tend to be more aggressive.
 
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I do think women tend to be less violent and more peaceful (am I nuts?).

Barking.
 
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Today’s word, a rare one, is an eponym. It is the name of Socrates’ wife, who is traditionally described as shrewish and scolding. One story is that she became so angry with her husband that she threw a bucket of washing water on him. Socrates commented philosophically, "After thunder comes rain."

Xanthippe or Xantippe – an ill-tempered woman
    By the time [Charlie Chaplin’s young wife] Lita filed for divorce on January 10, 1927, the diabolic mother-daughter "money plot" had long since dawned on Chaplin. By then it was too late. The dynamic duo relinquished their grip for a price: a cool million. During those two years of married hell, little Lolita metamorphosed into ferocious Xanthippe, stage managed by Nana. Chaplin's every move in the house, every exit and entrance that smacked of peccadillo, every free-thinking remark or intimate suggestion shared with his wife in bed were reported by daughter and noted down by mother in a big business ledger. Nana then turned over the evidence to uncle Ed, the lawyer in the family.
    – Kenneth Anger, Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets
 
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Perhaps being named "yellow horse" (xanthi + hippo) might take its toll on one's good nature.


RJA
 
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Xanthippe

I am familiar with xanthosis, which means a yellow discoloration beneath the skin.

How is Xanthippe pronounced? I like it! And I am surely a Xanthippe tonight, with the Cubs losing and all! Mad
 
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harridan – a bossy or belligerent woman (typically an old one)
    … the harridan of a Stepmother who demands that Cinderella "prune the rhododendrons, dye the drapes, clean the oven and retile the bathroom" by the time she and her daughters get back from the ball.
    – Washington Post, Dec. 10, 1996

    Academic departments tend to be … run by people who grew up when smart women became teachers or nurses. … there is something just wrong about a woman sitting in a faculty discussion. A woman who disagrees with the established ideas is a troublemaker. A sloppy, foulmouthed contrarian man can be a brilliant maverick; a sloppy, foulmouthed contrarian woman is just a harridan. Those idealized brilliant loners, those colorful professors with the messy offices and the drinking problems and the much-quoted epigrams: They're all guys.
    – San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 12, 2001
It's unsettling that English has so many objectifying terms for "a woman". If you doubt that it does, see here.
 
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Yes, I think we've discussed this in other threads here on Wordcraft. Any ideas why?
 
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English has just as many terms for objectifying men, but they all derive from words for penis: dick, prick, dork, wanker, weiner, tool, schmuck...
Count your blessings.
 
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I don't think there are nearly as many objectifying terms for men, but we could take a census.

That Eye Weekly piece was excellent. But I thought a banshee was a male warrior of some sort?

As an opinionated, and I like to think, strong woman, I find it frightening to read the violence of the reactions to temperamental women expressed in the earlier texts. Yikes!

We may be more civilized and enlightened these days, but the underlying feelings still remain. Where I work, the women are always complaining among themselves that the men never listen to us and don't threat us respectfully unless we are very deferential--even though the men put on a good show of being non-discriminatory. Often that is not respect; it is patronization. You only have to look at the salary stats we file with the federal government each year to see that the men get 20%- to 30% more respect than the women.

Still, we women are as harsh about other women as the men if the person in question is obnoxious. We have one younger woman who is always making impertinent, inappropriate remarks about others, and we have a few names for her, like shrew. Likewise, the older woman who habitually lectures us at meetings about everything that is wrong and that we are doing wrong, in her opinion. So what is it about our cultures that makes this attitude toward "domineering" women the norm, whereas in other cultures, more primitive ones, women are dominant and men are subordinate? I wonder what words they have for men in such places?

Wordmatic
 
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Originally posted by wordmatic:
But I thought a banshee was a male warrior of some sort?


banshee is from Irish Gaelic bean sídhe "woman of the fairies". bean "woman" is related to queen.
 
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neveu, I don't think there is any question that there are more insulting words for women than for men. The very word that Wordmatic mentioned, "shrew," is always used for a woman. I looked back on some threads where we've talked about men and women and really didn't find what I wanted, in terms of the differences in numbers of insulting words. However, in our men vs. women thread, look at the difference between the descriptors of "lady" and "gentleman." I had forgotten about that discussion.

quote:
Where I work, the women are always complaining among themselves that the men never listen to us and don't threat us respectfully unless we are very deferential--even though the men put on a good show of being non-discriminatory.
I have always worked in a field where women predominate. I can tell you that there is an advantage to having men to work with, too. I know that I will sound like I am generalizing and like I am biased against women, but sometimes don't you think women can get too petty? I remember once I had wanted a faculty member to be a part of a committee I was chairing, and one of my colleagues said, "Absolultely not! 20 years ago she blah, blah, blah, and I will never work with her again!" The men I've worked with will get angry, we'll have words, and that's that. The women will hold grudges for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, let's come up with a few more insults for men!
 
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neveu, I don't think there is any question that there are more insulting words for women than for men

Possibly, but I'd like to see numbers rather than mere assertion. In any case, my point was about the quality of the words rather than quantity. Our language seems to make many fine distinctions between difficult women, but difficult men are just assholes, pricks and bastards.
We make fine distinctions for subjects we know and think a lot about.
 
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