Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 11:57:52 -0500
From: Michael Linn mlinn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]D.UMN.EDU
Subject: the origin of "Barefoot and Pregnant
If you check your sources you will find that this invidious phrase has
its origin in the late Middle Ages or, more likely, the early
rennaisance. It was advice to a husband to prevent is wife from
having an affair with other men. If she was barefoot in the winter she
would be confined to the house and supposedly not be able to meet her
lover and if she were pregnant in the summer she would supposedly not be
interested. Sexism and control has been around for a long time.
On Wed, 11 Sep 1996, Undetermined origin c/o LISTSERV maintainer wrote:
It seems to me that, contrary to what David Johns suggests, that
"barefoot" would be an even better way of keeping someone under
control in the north than in the south. Just think, for a
moment: if someone stole your shoes in January, would you rather
be in Georgia or New Hampshire?
On the other hand, maybe the "barefoot" part has less to do with
not owning shoes than with feet swelling in pregnancy, something
"ladylike" shoes don't accommodate well. In other words, maybe
someone noticed that pregnant women are likely to take their
shoes off indoors, even in situations where other women would
consider it improper.
This speculation is a lot of fun, but I'm starting to wish for
some more data on the distribution of the phrase.
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