B3 Article in conference proceedings
Shaming for honour. – Women and Early Modern Legal Culture in Courts and Homes

Subtitle: Women and Early Modern Legal Culture in Courts and Homes
List of Authors: Satu Lidman
Publication year: 2013
Book title *: Shame between Punishment and Penance. The Social Usages of Shame in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
Title of series: Micrologus Library
Volume number: 54
Number of pages: 19
ISBN: 978-88-8450-482-1

What do shaming punishments have in common with marital violence –
or do they? Can we view historical legal culture in comparison with today’s
human rights’ issues, and if so, what would be the advantages of this? How
does shaming actually work? The article discusses the gender-divided early
modern legal culture, where shame played a central role, especially when it
came to women being accused and punished for moral offences. In the
post-reformation Europe shaming rituals were juridical tools tightly linked
with perception of honour as something collective, yet possible for an individual
to stain. In Protestant as well as in Catholic territories a hierarchic
patriarchal structure determined the life of both sexes. The secular disciplinary
system was based on an idea of prevention of crime through cautionary
example. In various situations the use of violence was conceived as a
necessity that wipes away the shame and purifies the community by dishonouring
the «wronged» individual. Therefore, it was justified through the
priority of common good. A woman’s honour was build up on her sexual
reputation, and this influenced the honour of her family also including its
male members. However, a similar understanding concerning the stigma of
shame urging violence can be found in many other societies, among others
in pre-Christian Europe, historical China and rural areas of today’s non-
Muslim Asia and Africa, as well as some current Islamic cultures. The similarities
in the disciplinary attitudes due to “shameful» and «unchaste» behav-
iour, for example in cases of non-marital relationships and adultery are visible.
It often concerns the victims of rape as well, not to mention the
father’s and husband’s right to discipline his wife and daughters. The modern
term for these actions is honour related violence.

Internal Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 20:28