Archive for Sir Gawain and the Loathy Lady

A lesson on women’s choices from the tales of King Arthur and his knights.

Posted in Books, Education, Entertainment, Life, Politics, Story time, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2017 by urbannight

Loathy LadyThere is a story about one of Arthur’s knights who is on a mission and he meets a witch who will help him if only he will marry her. He agrees. She resolves his mission and now he must keep his promise.  Other versions are where the knight becomes obligated to someone of a higher status who forces him to marry an ugly woman under this other man’s authority.

He is depressed because she is very ugly. She lets him in on a secret. He has to make a choice. She can be beautiful but he must decide when. Does he want her to be beautiful at night, when they are alone together? Then everyone with think he has an ugly wife and feel sorry for him. Or she can be beautiful during the day and everyone will think he is lucky to have such a beautiful wife but she will be ugly at night.

Feeling rather sorry for himself, he decided that it doesn’t really matter to him and tells her to choose which way will make her happier. Her response is, “Oh well, in that case, I would rather be beautiful all the time.” And so she was.

The moral is that men shouldn’t make decisions for women. When you let women makeLady Ragnell their own decisions, you may end come coming out of it better than if you tried to force her to follow your choices.

The other moral, as it is sometimes done, is based on a riddle the knight failed to answer.  What is it that women really want?  After failing to answer correctly and having to wed the ugly woman, by letting her choose, he learns the real answer.  What women really want is self-determination.  The right to make their own choices about their own lives and their own bodies.

Both variations of the moral are nearly identical.  The one that says women want and deserve self-determination focuses more on women and letting them make their own decisions.  The other saying that men shouldn’t make decisions for women focuses on men and what they shouldn’t do.  Either way, I think the story is really appropriate for today’s political climate.

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