Hic Mulier

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Hic Mulier (Latin: This [manlike] Woman - hic being the masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun jokingly applied to the feminine noun) is the name of a pamphlet published in 1620 in England that condemned transvestitism. Women wearing men's apparel was becoming increasingly common in that period, causing concern to the pamphleteer and other social conservatives. The pamphlet argued that transvestitism was an affront to nature, The Bible, the Great chain of being, and society.

During the last few years of King James's reign, women were accused of dressing and behaving like men. This occurrence was relatively small-scale and brief. The term Hic Mulier, used as a sexual insult, was introduced by a preacher named Thomas Adams in a pamphlet he published in 1615. King James commented on the fashion of women dressing in men's clothing. In 1620, he commanded his clergy to teach, "against the insolencie of our women, and their wearing of broad brimmed hats, pointed dublets, their hair cut short or shorn, and some of them stilettoes or poinards, and such other trinckets of like moment." Hic Mulier and Haec Vir were outcomes of his command.[1]

The narration of Hic Mulier is from a single viewpoint and its style is based on oral delivery. This style differs from its companion pamphlet Haec Vir, which is written as a dialogue between the two characters Hic Mulier and Haec Vir. There is evidence suggesting that masculine women were both a social and literary phenomenon. The topic of masculine women was briefly popular, but lost appeal after King James died in 1625.[1]

Hic Mulier quotes twelve lines from Thomas Overbury's notorious poem A Wife. The currency of this reference is reflected in Overbury's being identified solely by his initials.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Clark, Sandra. "Hic Mulier, Haec Vir, and the Controversy over Masculine women." Studies in Philology. 82.2 (Spring 1985): 157–183. JSTOR. Web. 18 November 2014.

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