Posts Tagged ‘tricoteuse’

Real men do knit.

August 20, 2020
IMG_0900 knitting

There used to be a popular show on TV featuring men wrestling. It wasn’t real wrestling but more a show made especially for those that seem to get satisfaction watching glistening muscled men beating the s..t out of each other,  extolling cruelty to the point of whereby the audience at home, in the comfort of their armchairs, would ask themselves if the intention was to kill each other. The oiled wrestlers would end standing high on the ring wires and hurl themselves on each other with such force one expected entrails to fly about. But no, not a single death ever shown on TV. In the life audience there would be almighty booing and egging on the wrestlers to even greater heights of murderous intent.

The odd thing was the surveys showing that it were women who seemed to get the most joy out of this pantomime wrestling. My friend’s mother was proof of it. Of all the shows I found her watching on TV, it was the wrestling that she would not miss out for all the money in the world. Perhaps there is contained within this TV cruelty, watched by some women a nefarious delight that men get what they deserved all along; are men not the war mongers, the wife beaters, the unfaithful animals often ruled by their one eyed, hooded but rampant genital? Perhaps men beating up men added an extra poignancy for the lady watchers seeing they did not have to do it.

As the days of the Covid-19 keep on passing, the demand on relationship counselling is at a peak. Hundreds of callers are queueing up on the Beyond Blue mental health line, suicides are up. Many women live in fear what will come next. Husbands are out of work, cooped up with families, unable to relieve their anxiety, hopelessness seeps in and with their often superior muscles, lash out. But it are the women, many of whom are rearing children doing the domestic work, spending most of their lives being ‘cooped’ up willingly and often happily. What is that men so easily let fly? Is it proof that women are stronger and much more resilient?

The picture below shows the period in France during the reign of Maximillian Robespierre with his penchant for executing hundreds of fellow citizens during the Reign of Terror 1793/1794. His excuse was to free France of its monarchy but in doing so he had to take drastic measures and heads would roll in the cane baskets. In those days there was no TV but that did not stop keen viewers from watching the procedures.

Une Exécution capitale, place de la Révolution, painting by Pierre-Antoine Demachy

History tells us, often in gory details, that Robespierre fought for the common man against the iron fisted monarchy whose Kings enlisted men for armies and wars. It were the women that Robespierre really wanted to liberate from this Royal tyranny. He did become the favourite leader who would take France to freedom and a republic. During the revolution, it was no wonder that during the beheadings of Robespierre’s enemies, the women were lining up in front rows watching the rolling of heads into the baskets. Many would queue early to get the best seats and take the knitting with them. At the height of the guillotine’s work it was rumoured a head would roll for every 6 rows of straight knitting. ( 50 stitches on the 5 mill needle)

The French word for a female knitter is tricoteuse. It is often used as a historical nickname for women knitters sitting beside the executioner working the guillotine  flat out separating heads from the prisoners, supposedly knitting during public executions in the French revolution.

We all know that Robespierre himself would fall victim to the guillotine the year after. So, is there a link between the tricoteuses of the 1790’s in France and preferences of females watching male wrestling on TV?

As an aside, I have taken the decision to start up my knitting again. The last time I did it was when about 12 years of age. I find it surprisingly interesting and very soothing. I just straight knit, so no pearling yet, but that might still come. I use 4 millimetres needles and a mixture of yarn 50/50 nylon to wool. The lockdown does force one to come up with solutions to pass time, and I suppose the knitting is one pastime that is fairly easy to do and one makes something at the same time.

I intend to make a throw rug.