Thursday, June 25, 2015

Those Wild And Crazy Victorians

You've heard the shocking news by now. Miley Cyrus did not invent twerking. Not only that, but the person who taught her to twerk didn't invent it either.

Women have been twerking for almost two hundred years.

You know what that means. Yes. The Victorians were twerking.

Imagine Queen Victoria, dropping it like it's hot for Prince Albert. No wonder she had so many children!
Queen Victoria gets into her groove with Albert
It's a troubling image, to picture those staid and prim ladies shaking their money-makers. And in what context might the ancestral twerking have been performed?

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary are, of course, concerned only with words, so when they studied the word 'twerking' for possible inclusion in the dictionary, they found that it was not a new word at all. Grand, so, but what were our ancestors doing, and are we all wrong in thinking that there wasn't all that much sex beyond that required to procreate?

They are saying the word originated as a way to describe a twist or jerking motion. Sounds harmless enough, without any sexual context at all, but back in 1820 when 'twerk' cropped up, the world was still in the throes of the Regency and the King wasn't exactly the loyal, stay at husband his father George III had been. The OED editors have said, in not so many words, that twerking then is the same as twerking now. The word was put to a particular action and somehow fell out of everyday use until Miley Cyrus put on a show and everyone started talking.

Western films will have to update their dance hall sequences, given this new evidence. The ladies weren't just kicking up their heels, no indeed, they were twerking under all those layers of clothing.

What of the average housewife, would she have been aware of twerking and felt compelled to twerk for her husband to keep him from seeking titillation elsewhere? There must have been a lot of action in your average log cabin in the wilds of the American frontier, where entertainment options were few and a wandering husband would have to wander for days to find the nearest brothel and who would plow the fields in the meantime?

So there it is. The young generation hasn't discovered sex or invented anything that their ancestors weren't doing two hundred years ago.

But who would have guessed that the Victorians were so wild and crazy?

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