Today I am going to tell you a story about three women that dressed as men. I recommend you also to watch my latest YouTube video where I speak about them!
Why would women dress as men, you are wondering? There are three main reasons for our heroines in this video: education, to avoid marriage and adventure. Three women that I am going to talk to you about are Agnodice, Wilgeforte and Catalina de Erauso.
So, let’s begin!
The first gynecologist woman
The first woman that we know of, who dressed like a man was Agnodice in the Antique Greece. First of all, you need to understand, Mom, that in at that time women had no rights! They could not study and Agnodice wanted to become a doctor. She was supported by her dad, who helped her. Agnodice went to Alexandria in order to study with a doctor considered to be the best one at the time.
That is how she became the very first woman gynecologist. I am saying the first, but actually, what I mean is the first that we know of, since, I am sure, there were others that were simply never caught and that is why we know nothing about them today.
After her studies, she went back to Athens and opened her own practice. Since she was an amazing doctor, she was very successful and all of a sudden all of the patients started going to see her. Other doctors, very jealous, didn’t understand why they were losing all of their patients. They gathered and accused the young doctor that he was sexually abusing his patients. Do you realize this nonsense, Mom? This means that women were rushing to see this young doctor because they wanted to be sexually abused? Men really have sometimes the craziest ideas! At the same time, they were worried, not really because of women, but because of their job.
Agnodice had to go to the court where she revealed that she could not abuse of those women because she was a woman! And then, Mom, what happens?! She was sentenced to death. Well, yes, she basically broke the law by studying.
Don’t despair, because what happened then shows us how much strength and power women actually have! A group of women gathered to protest and said they were going to kill themselves if Agnodice gets killed. She got released and she was allowed to continue practicing medicine. Only one year later, the law changed and all women had the right to study. Pretty sweet, right?
You can read a story and watch a video about other amazing woman that opened her own business and started an idea of a franchise, but clicking here.
A woman that did not want to get married
The second woman I wanted to talk to you about, Mom, is Wilgeforte who put a beard because she did not want to get married. This story happens in the Middle Ages.
It is believed that she is a daughter of a Portuguese king and her father wanted to marry her to a Sicilian king. She became Cristian and she prayed to God to save her because she did not want to marry. The legend says that she actually wanted to preserve her virginity. Good God, in order to save her, gave her a beard. Her dad wanted her to give up on her faith because he believed that if she rejected God, beard would disappear. Wilgeforte did not want to do it and her father condemns her to death.
Mom, do you notice how women are punished straight away? And not a little bit, but it’s straight away death sentence. I guess that also life had different worth. Especially women’s lives. Her father wanted her to die as God that she praises, so he arranged for her to be crucified. Pretty brutal.
In XVI century, she is considered as saint in England by women who had unhappy marriages and wanted to get rid of their husbands. However, this image started being quiet disturbing and church made Wilgeforte disappear from liturgical calendar. That is how she was forgotten.
When I think about it now, and the clothes for women that was not always comfortable, just think about the corsets, Mom, I wonder how come women did not dress as men even more often! They would have also avoid being sexually harassed.
Our third heroine is Catalina de Erauso. Since very young age, Catalina had been living in a convent in Spain. She decided to flee at the age of 15 because she did not want to become a nun. She made pants out of her dress, she cut her hair and renamed herself into Francisco. Since she was scared that she would be discovered, she adopted a lot of ‘’manly’’ behaviors. She fought a lot, she was in numerous duels, she did not hesitate to take out her knife.
Eventually she embarked on a boat and went to South America. She was injured, in prison, in various duels, considered as extremely bloodthirsty. Before going back to Spain, she revealed to a bishop that she was a woman.
Upon her arrival to her home country, she convinced the kind to recognize all of her struggles and participation in battles for Spain in South America, which he did. Catalina wanted her efforts to be acknowledged because she wanted a well-deserved pension, just like any other man that fought like her.
But that was not all, Mom! Catalina got an additional, special permission from the pope to continue wearing men’s clothes. Pretty unusual. Can you imagine having to ask the pope to dress how you want to dress?
Pretty amazing I must say!
As you can see, Mom, women did not dress as men just like that. They had strong reasons, one of which was to simply live their lives! It was extremely dangerous, for Wilgeforte even brutal, but they did not have choice and if they did what they had to do.
Until the next wonderful woman!