skimmington


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skimmington

(ˈskɪmɪŋtən)
n
(Anthropology & Ethnology) (in rural Britain, formerly) the custom of forming a mock procession to ridicule an unfaithful spouse
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Karen Newman recounts an example of a communally enforced skimmington against a married couple and notes: "The community's ritual against the couple who transgresses prevailing codes of gender behavior seeks to reestablish those conventional modes of behavior--it seeks to sanction a patriarchal order." See Karen Newman, Fashioning Femininity and English Renaissance Drama (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 35-36.
Although its interest in the poetry is also fleeting, it does include a reading of "The Bride-Night Fire" that suggests the community of the poem is duty bound to observe the custom of the skimmington, a custom that appears to have a dual nature "as a force to socially extinguish, and as a kind of ritual that 'cleanses' or purifies the village" (p.
Katritzky examines the skimmington or social shaming ritual in Samuel Butler s three-part poem Hudibras (1664).
The play makes much of this image, depicting Swetnam muzzled by a group of angered women in a carnivalesque episode redolent of a skimmington.
For example, his discussion of the Skimmington ritual is a fine example of how he uses case studies to explain his argument.
(12) In England, charivaris often involved "riding skimmington," in which an abused husband (or a surrogate, such as a neighbor or effigy figure) was forced to ride facing backwards through a mocking crowd (Ingram 82-6).
Here the playwrights amplified a detail from the deposition, supplementing the boy's alleged equine transformation with a number of other horses, including Robert's and Mistress Generous's metamorphoses as well as Mall and Robert's riding of a magic horse, and the animal used in a skimmington in act 4.
It included merry tales; ballads mocking obnoxious suitors; farce; often obscene jigs, such as those performed by Shakespeare's clown, Will Kempe; festive rituals such as Hocktide, Horn Fair, and the skimmington; commedia dell'arte lazzi; and so on.
In Britain, charivari, known variously as 'rough music', 'skimmington' or 'hussitting', (30) was most often an intervention into domestic life, against those who transgressed sexual/marital norms.
Female infidelity or inappropriate household dominance also proved fodder for public ridicule through the folk rituals of the charivari and skimmington. In his study of politics and culture in early seventeenth century England, David Underdown notes the centuries-old use of charivari, a European folk practice, used to humiliate those who had violated communal standards.
The continuation of the ancient meme of patriarchy, as expressed, for example, by the Skimmington, is shown to predict the controversy over the existence of female-perpetrated violence and male victims, a controversy that saw academics who sought to expose such violence being subjected to intimidation and abuse.