The Scold's Bridle

This International Women's Day I'm feeling like I've dodged a bullet!


Let me introduce the brank's/ gossip's bridle, used against witches, nags and 'common scolds' . Below is an 18th Century design displayed in the Markishes Museum, Berlin, (many thanks to ANGORIA - Own work, for making the image available).

The wearer couldn't speak or eat. Sometimes the 'Scold' was exhibited publically and whipped as well. Though there is evidence of the bridle being used on men on occasion, it was much more commonly used on women whose speech was 'troublesome' or 'riotous'.

A woman who caused trouble by her speech, especially if she was unsupported by her husband was a 'Shrew' .


Freedom of speech? Something I've grown up taking for granted. As one of 3 daughters I was never excused from having an opinion, or from the duty of articulating and presenting the necessary reasonable evidence to back up that point of view. When we look at even recent history though, how precarious is this freedom, how embryonic a right, especially for women. Last century, even in the UK and many other countries in Europe as well as the USA, women did not enjoy parity with men under the law and even now the law operates differently in many countries based upon the XY versus XX factor.


Knowing this makes me glance nervously over my shoulder...



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