Hungry women: sin and rebellion through food and music in the early modern era
AbstractLonging for food has always had different implications for men and women: associated with power and strength for men, it tends to have a worrying proximity to sexual pleasure for women. Showing an interesting parallelism throughout the Cinquecento, Italian humanists and teachers insisted on forbidding women music and gluttony. Food and music were both considered dangerous stimulants for the female senses, and every woman was encouraged to consider herself as a kind of food to be offered to the only human beings authorized to feel and satisfy desires: men and babies. Women could properly express themselves only inside monastic circles: the most prolific female composer of the seventeenth century was a nun, as was the first woman who wrote down recipes. Elaborate music and food became the means to maintain a lively relationship with the external world. Moreover, nuns also escaped male control by using the opposite system of affirming themselves through fasting and mortifying the flesh.
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