Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stupid movies and chastity belts

In the evenings after Hannah goes to sleep, J and I have half an hour of "us" time.  Mostly we play Diablo together, but the past few days we've been watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights in installments.  Suddenly it's 1993, and there are references to Arsenio Hall which I actually understand.  And Carey Elwes is still hot.  The movie is a parody of the Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, and is silly and goofy and pretty stupid much of the time, but has some hilarity that is worth sitting through the stupid.

One of the things that I'd forgotten about the movie is that Marian has a chastity belt.  I got to wondering whether these things were actually real or not.  I've never read anything about them.  Turns out that not only are they real, and they were used during the Renaissance (so, unsurprisingly, this movie is off with its timeline as it's based in the medieval period) but they are still used today (largely in the bondage scene, but still).

At the time, they were ostensibly used to prevent rape.  But they also made it difficult for women to do anything without getting the key from her patriarch.  Catherine de Medici is supposed to have worn one that was exhibited in Paris.  In later years, chastity belts were actually marketed to young women entering the workforce as a way to ensure that they could easily rebuke predatory advances made by their bosses or coworkers.

There are, in fact, still versions of chastity belts being sold to young women.  Last year a company called AR Wear (stands for Anti-Rape) had a successful indigogo campaign to create shorts that have a steel plate in them, so that when things turn sour after a night of clubbing, you have some extra protection.  They even suggest that parents might want to get them for their daughters.  I can just see the look on their faces at Christmas.

I don't know how I feel about this "chastity belt" shorts thing.  On one hand, I have a daughter who will someday grow up into a young woman, and I know the statistics.  On the other hand, I am going to enroll my daughter in martial arts classes when she is old enough, and teach her how to defend and empower herself without needing to wear steel shorts, which seem like unnecessary weight and discomfort, and a bitch to launder.  It's like the whole thing where if we stop traveling and stop going places, then the terrorists win.  It seems like, if you need to wear steel shorts to go out, then the rapists win.  At the same time, there is something to be said for protecting yourself in advance, and not, you know, going to, say, Iran wearing a USA flag shirt, and talking crap about Islam.

So I have managed to turn a stupid Mel Brooks movie into thoughts about feminism and the history of the chastity belt.  Because I'm a nerd like that.

1 comment:

Cynthia T said...

Had no idea there was a contemporary version of the chastity belt. I thought it was once used to keep the wife of a traveling husband from straying. Just another idea a man thought up to keep women dependent and uncomfortable (think foot-wrapping).