Blue stocking

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Towards the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, blue stocking was a name of abuse and mockery for women who strived for emancipation so that they contradicted the contemporary image of women and were considered "unfeminine". Intellectually educated women were caricatured as blue stockings . The term goes back to the British blue stocking society , initially applied to both sexes and had no derogatory meaning.

Change of meaning of the term

Bluestocking Society from the mid-18th century

The Bluestocking Society (English for "blue stocking society ") was a group of learned women who met for literary and political discussions in the salon of Elizabeth Montagu and her friend Elizabeth Vesey, which they had opened in London in the mid-18th century and which also Men, intellectuals and aristocrats, were invited. The term bluestocking is said to go back to the following incident: One of the gentlemen frequenting there was the botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet, who wore cheap blue yarn stockings instead of the black silk stockings that belonged to the fine men's evening wear due to a lack of appropriate funds. Word of this scandalous fashion offense got around and the participants in the "intellectual festivals", men and women, became known as "bluestockings". However, the group was never a "society" in the formal sense. Writings of members of the blue stocking circle between 1738 and 1785, v. a. by Elizabeth Montagu, Catherine Talbot, Hester Chapone, are also referred to as Bluestocking Feminism ("blue stocking feminism ").

Late 18th to late 19th century

Honoré Daumier: Les Bas-Bleus , caricature in the satirical magazine Le Charivari , 1844
Honoré Daumier: Les Bas-Bleus , 1844
Honoré Daumier: Les Bas-Bleus , 1844

Since the middle of the 18th century, a “polarized gender philosophy” had emerged which established the separation of male and female civil spheres and denied women self-determination. In his treatise on the upbringing of Émile (1762) Rousseau had formulated: “The upbringing of women should always relate to men. To please us, to be useful to us, to make our life easy and pleasant: these are the duties of women at all times ”. The learned woman was frowned upon, like the blue stocking later . Women should not be taught but educated in feminine virtues and duties . This should also be served by reading “good books” which “brighten the mind and make the heart more noble”.

When Mary Wollstonecraft made the British blue stocking circle and its demand for higher education and study for the female sex known with her writing A vindication of the rights of woman in 1792 , the nickname blue stocking was first picked up in Great Britain, then in Germany and France A name of abuse and mockery for women who were not satisfied with the female tasks assigned to them and who questioned their alleged intellectual inferiority to men.

The self-confident woman who wanted to educate herself intellectually or to be active as a writer was the target of male aversions and fears in the mid-19th century, which were expressed in the caricatures by Honoré Daumier , which were popular in France at the time . In 1844, the satirical magazine Le Charivari published 40 caricatures by Daumier with the title Les bas-bleus (French for blue stockings). The writing, reading or thinking woman who neglected her motherly and housewife duties is stylized into a deterrent example in that he portrayed her as sexless and physically repulsive. The claim of women to have 'male' talent was portrayed as "ridiculous self-deception".

Likewise, in his work Les sprachuvre et les Hommes (Volume V, 1878) , Barbey d'Aurevilly denied women any real creative talent. If they presume this, they lose their femininity.

"[...] les femmes qui écrivent ne sont plus des femmes. [...] Ce sont des Bas-bleus . Bas-bleu est masculine. "

- Barbey d'Aurevilly

For d'Aurevilly , the epitome of a blue stocking was George Sand , who presumed "virility and genius", while Madame de Staël was content with a "female talent", which is evident in her feminine curves. In his sarcastic polemic, with which he commented on the emergence of the first women's suffrage movement, he claims that France has reached the lowest point in its history with the bas-bleuisme and that the French will die a grotesque death.

In this zeitgeist, Oscar Blumenthal satirically rhymed in 1887:

Blue stockings
All your poetic belongings -
I don't value her a little.
Women should not write poetry:
You're supposed to try to be poetry.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, on the other hand, mocked the demonization of women who fought for emancipation in her poem Saint Peter and the Blue Stocking (1893).

A woman knocks on the sky gate,
Saint Peter opens, looks out:
- "Who are you?" - "A stocking, oh Lord ..."
She pauses, and he gently admonishes:
"My child, explain yourself more precisely,
What kind of stocking? "" Forgive - a blue one. "
But he growls: “You meet the kind
Not often here at our gate.
Be all free spirits,
The devil is often not bolder
Go there! he should know about you
The good Lord can miss you. "

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff left Perdu! or poets, publishers and blue stockings. Comedy in a file , a satire written in 1840 but not published during her lifetime, in which she caricatured herself and the literary business of her time, three embodiments of the blue stocking appear: Frau von Thielen ("Blue Stocking of Stande"), Claudine Briesen (" naive-soulful blue stocking ") and Johanna von Austen (" blue stocking du bon vieux temps " ).

20th century

As the movements for women's suffrage grew stronger , the blue stocking caricature shifted to the suffragette in coarse blue wool stockings, portrayed as both ridiculous and dangerous . In the 50s and 60s the word blue stocking was still "part of the standard vocabulary of misogynists of all kinds". Intellectual women had this designation mostly away from him and were charming, what Gerd Rinck - even a law professor - 1965 in a time knew highly of the "unsympathetic intellectuals" to mention -Article: "Our fathers had a horror of the intellectual woman. She was the bluestock : inelegant, musty, without charm, only professionally approachable. Fortunately, this figure has almost disappeared. Working women have learned excellently to be attractive and charming. ”He attributed the small number of intellectual women to the fact that“ many women, including very intelligent women, can fill their lives with a house and children, perhaps even with their husband, and at the same time Happy. Thank God. They have the intelligence but make little use of it. They may be too humble. "

Without modest reluctance, however, Helke Sander from the Action Council for the Liberation of Women used the blue stocking cliché in her speech to the Socialist German Student Union in 1968 to characterize the conflict between traditional role expectations and the adapted "sham emancipation" of women who have studied:

If women are able to study today, it is not so much thanks to the bourgeois emancipation movement, but rather to economic necessities. When these privileged women now have children, they will be thrown back on behavior patterns that they thought they had already overcome thanks to their emancipation. […] In addition, there is the uncertainty that one has not been able to choose between blue stocking and woman for the house, either to build a career that has to be bought with a largely renouncement of happiness or to be a woman for consumption.

The blue stocking, as a symbol of a bourgeois-adapted emancipation, became the definition of the militant self-image of the feminist movements of this time. With the second wave of the women's movement, the derisive name gave way to the name Emanze , which is still used today with pejorative meaning for feminists who are considered to be unfeminine.

Seitōsha: feminist blue stocking society in Japan

In Japan , the idea of ​​the literary salon of the British Bluestocking Society was taken up in the early 20th century with the founding of the Seitōsha (Japanese for blue stocking society). It was a movement of middle class women that is considered to be the beginning of feminism in Japan . The title of the literary and feminist magazine Seitō (Japanese for blue stocking) goes back to the translator and critic Ikuta Chōkō . It was founded in 1911 by Hiratsuka Haruko and four other women and was run by Noe Ito until 1916 .

Different meaning

In the 17th and 18th centuries, " blue stocking " was a nickname for the bailiffs who often wore blue stockings. According to the German dictionary by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, the term “blue stocking” meant “show-off” or “slanderer”. In this sense it is used in Johann Sebastian Bach's Quodlibet from 1707 (BWV 524), in which it says: "... and some court attendants wear blue stockings."


  • Gerd Stein (Ed.): Femme fatale, vamp, blue stocking. Sexuality and domination. (= Cultural figures and social characters of the 19th and 20th centuries, 3) Fischer TB, 5037, Frankfurt 1985 (source volume, with extensive supplementary bibliography. Blaustrumpf: pp. 163 - 281, 18 texts and documents)

Web links

Wiktionary: Bluestock  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

supporting documents

  1. ^ Bluestocking, Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. ^ Historical Dictionary of Feminism. 2nd Edition. Scarecrow Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8108-4946-1 , p. 59.
  3. ^ Gary Kelly et al. (Ed.): Bluestocking Feminism: Writings of the Bluestocking Circle 1738–1785. Pickering & Chatto, London 1999, ISBN 1-85196-514-9 .
  4. Elizabeth Eger: Boscawen, Frances Evelyn (1719-1805) . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  5. ^ GB Hill (ed.): GB Boswell's Life of Johnson. Volume IV, 1887, p. 108.
  6. a b c Anna Miegon: Biographical Sketches of Principal Bluestocking Women. In: The Huntington Library Quarterly. 65.1 / 2, 2002, pp. 25-37.
  7. ^ Rhoda Zuk: Talbot, Catherine (1721-1770). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004, Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  8. Barbara Brandon Schnorrenberg: Montagu, Elizabeth (1718-1800). In: HCG Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004.
  9. Gisela Brinker-Gabler : Introduction to: German poets from the 16th century to the present. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-596-23701-7 , pp. 48/49.
  10. ^ Rousseau, quoted by Brinker-Gabler, ibid., P. 49.
  11. Christian Fürchtegott Gellert , quoted by Brinker-Gabler, ibid., P. 49.
  12. a b c The blue stocking. In: Susanne Rossbach: The dandy's word as a weapon. de Gruyter, 2015, ISBN 978-3-484-55038-4 , pp. 151–155.
  13. quoted by Susanne Rossbach, ibid, p. 155. Own translation: The women who write are no longer women. These are blue stockings . Blue stocking is male.
  14. Complete poem Saint Peter and the Bluestock
  15. ^ Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Perdu! or poets, publishers and blue stockings. Comedy in one act . In: Günther Weydt, Winfried Woesler (Hrsg.): All works in two volumes . Based on the text of the original prints and the manuscripts. tape 1-2 . Munich 1973 ( [accessed September 10, 2019]).
  16. Perdu! or poets, publishers and blue stockings. In: Droste portal. Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe, accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  17. Eva Weickart: The blue stocking - an almost forgotten swear word. In: Networking Center for Equality, Women's and Equal Opportunities Officer. Retrieved September 9, 2019 .
  18. Gerd Rinck: The intellectuals - unsympathetic. In: Die Zeit, year 1965, issue 45. Die Zeit Archive, November 5, 1965, accessed on September 9, 2019 .
  19. Speech by Helke Sander (Action Council for the Liberation of Women) at the 23rd delegate conference of the "Socialist German Student Union" (SDS) on September 13, 1968 in Frankfurt / Main. In: 100 (0) key documents to German history in the 20th century. Bavarian State Library, accessed on September 9, 2019 .
  20. ^ Richmond Bollinger in: Asian Studies - Journal of the Swiss Asian Society. Volume 48/1994, doi: 10.5169 / seals-147087 .
  21. ^ SL Sievers: Meiji Japan . 1998, ISBN 0-415-15618-1 , chapter: The Bluestockings ( limited preview in Google book search).
  22. German dictionary .