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Today we talk about ancient tales about women farting.
This story exists in many traditions around the world, but in vastly different versions, and with vastly different morals. Some folklorists posit that it is of Eastern origin, because it exists in the Birbal tale cycle of India.
Whatever the case, it is worth talking about.
Here is the gist:
A man (or a party of men) arrives at a house to propose to a girl. While they are there, the girl lets out a fart, which absolutely scandalizes the guests, and they leave immediately. After this, the story can take two turns: One, "this is why women should never fart" - and Two, which is obviously why I am talking about this today.
In Option Two (several Hungarian versions), the mother is so embarrassed by her daughter's mistake that she bribes the men with a length of home-made linen to not tell anyone. When his daughter finds out that they are walking away with the linen that she made with hard work, she runs after them, takes it back, tells them off, and marches home. The "tells them off" part is especially entertaining, and it can take various forms, such as:
"You take your groom, I'll take my linen. And you can go find a house where nobody farts!"
"Guess what: I farted a lot more than this while I made an entire length of linen with my own hands!"
"I farted because my father's house has good food. Does yours?"
In one version, the men feel ashamed, admit that the girl is clever, and propose anyway. In another, the storyteller concludes "she had more brains than her mother." In the third, the "clever girl" never marries, but the story notes that she was unjustly judged for "one mistake."
All of these versions of the story have been collected from female storytellers, by the way.
While many versions of this tale type fall under your typical run-of-the-mill "women-policing" category, the ones mentioned above carry a very important feminist message: That there is a bias in people when they compare a woman's behavior (and bodily functions) to the worth of her work. "Real" women, according to society, don't fart, don't burp, don't sweat, don't grow hair, and bleed blue. Watching to make sure they adhere to these rules come before actually paying attention to what they are working on, what they are saying, or what their personality is like. It is so important that a girl's shoulders should be covered that she is sent home from an educational institution, placing "propriety" above knowledge (because clearly no one has seen a naked shoulder before). When women in the media are meticulously criticized for their looks and their etiquette instead of what they stand for, we have a problem.
Sure, accidentally having bodily functions in front of guests is not good etiquette - but neither does it make a woman unlovable, undesirable, or worthy of eternal damnation.
And it is definitely not worth losing a perfectly good length of linen.
(SCAdians, can I get an amen?)