This is Part 6 of The Public Medievalist’s special series: Gender, Sexism, and the Middle Ages, by Jennifer Speed. You can find the rest of the series here.
Perceptions of people’s bodies and genders were different during the Middle Ages than they are now. But, it appears that one thing has not changed: a woman’s appearance is still fair game for interpreting her character and her motives.
A contemporary case in point: on January 21, 2017, the Women’s March was held in Washington, D.C. and in cities across the U.S.—the day after the inauguration. An article in the Chicago Tribune noted that:
several conservative commentators took to social media for commentary. Did they critique the marchers’ message? Nope…What they did was make fat jokes.