UK broadcasters are often accused of promoting obscenity through the increased use of bad language on TV. However, new research from the University of Warwick reveals that the language of public name-calling, or street theatre, in early modern England was full of foul sexual insults that are far more lewd than todays broadcast media - and women were the main offenders.
Professor Bernard Capps book When Gossips Meet, tracks the history of poor and middling women from the mid 1500s to the 1700s, to reveal that gossipmongering and heated public exchanges were weapons used by women to wield power and influence in a male dominated society where they were often excluded.
Public name-calling by women aimed to demoralise an adversary, trigger damaging gossip throughout the neighbourhood, and turn public opinion against the alleged offender.
Jenny Murray | EurekAlert!
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