The Weekly Squint—
Detail from Harriet Goodhue Hosmer’s Zenobia in Chains.
caption: Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830–1908), Zenobia in Chains, 1859. Marble. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Squint is an every-Thursday post that features snapshots of small, obscure Huntington details that catch our eye. It’s a little window into some of the delightful minutiae that bring a smile to our collective face.
Physician using his qualifications to take advantage of their women patients or of the public. Coloured lithographs, ca. 1852. via the Wellcome Collection
My six-year-old son was removed from school as a danger to others. His crime? A disability you could find in any classroom.
Surrealist-inspired designer Elsa Schiaparelli pictured with her famous Shoe Hat (c. 1938); Sketches for Shoe Hat
Do those words matter? Of course they do, because they underpin an idiom that acts to remove the authority, the force, even the humour from what women have to say. It’s an idiom that effectively repositions women back into the domestic sphere (people ‘whinge’ over things like the washing up); it trivialises their words, or it ‘re-privatises’ them. Contrast the ‘deep-voiced’ man with all the connotations of profundity that the simple word ‘deep’ brings. It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they don’t hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it; they don’t hear muthos. And it isn’t just voice: you can add in the craggy or wrinkled faces that signal mature wisdom in the case of a bloke, but ‘past-my-use-by-date’ in the case of a woman.
If conversation hearts are any indication of our capacity for romantic sentimentality, then we are a decidedly unsentimental bunch. But it’s not our fault: Valentine’s Day itself is probably to blame. Before the 1840s, Americans were largely free from the shackles of Valentine’s Day’s tyrannical romance. February was reserved for celebrating the birth of possibly the least romantic person on earth: George Washington.
A Short History of the Really Bad Valentine Missive, The Hairpin
Handmade Valentine, American, 1806