To be sure, "Victorian" assumptions about femininity and masculinity still matter (otherwise "man milliner" would not have been a pejorative applied to all men whose "masculinity" was suspect); indeed, it is important to emphasize that social constructions of gender are not universal but inexorably linked to particular historical contexts.(41) But by viewing gendered identities as contested, negotiable, and subject to change over time, we can better understand the "place" of businesswomen in history.
Only in the eighteenth century did the two trades become identified as "feminine." By the mid-nineteenth century this belief had become so entrenched that "man milliner" connoted not just a man who made and sold women's hats, but one whose manliness could be called into question.(47)