Archives for : October2019

A doll of a donation by Chloe Newman USA

Chloe Newman lost her right leg when she was a baby, and now she’s helping kids like her see themselves in a new way. When Mattel recently released a line of diverse Barbie dolls, including one with a stylish prosthetic leg, Chloe, now 18, had an idea. She wanted to buy 100 of the dolls so her doctor at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts, could give them to young patients when he made them a new leg. At first, they were hard to find in large numbers, but after a few posts on Facebook, friends started sending the dolls by the dozen. Chloe and her family wrote to Mattel to see if they could purchase the dolls in bulk, and the company ended up donating 200 of them to her cause. Chloe ended up with about 430 Barbies to share, and Shriners is making sure everyone gets to enjoy the doll haul. The hospital is giving them to orthotic and prosthetic patients in Springfield, and also plans to share them with patients at other Shriners’ facilities


Henry Sapiecha

Twinning — twice! Double the Joy…WOW.!

How many coincidences can you handle at one time? Identical twins Tori Howard and Tara Drinkard work at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital in Athens, Georgia, and they recently worked together to help a mom deliver surprise  a pair of identical twins! As if twins helping twins weren’t enough, Tori and Tara didn’t know they would be working together, or that their little patients would be so much like them, until right before the birth. Tori works in the neonatal intensive care unit and Tara recently made the switch from being in the emergency room to working in the labor and delivery unit. Nurses from both teams are usually present to assist with the delivery, and there must be at least one nurse per baby, so Tori and Tara turned out to be a perfect fit. The newborns’ mom and dad, Rebecca and Brannan Williams, say the twin nurses have been a huge source of advice and support as they navigate the new waters of twin parenthood.


Henry Sapiecha

How Does Early Menopause Affect a Woman’s Heart?

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Menopause before age 50 puts women at increased risk of nonfatal heart conditions, and the earlier menopause occurs, the greater the risk, new research suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 women who were part of 15 studies around the world, and found that women who reached menopause before age 50 were more likely to have a nonfatal heart problem, such as a heart attack, angina or stroke.

“Women under 40 who experience premature menopause were nearly twice as likely to have a nonfatal cardiovascular event before the age of 60. This is compared to women who reach menopause between the ages of 50 or 51, during what is considered the standard developmental period,” said senior study author Gita Mishra. She’s a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland, in Australia.

Women who entered menopause between ages 40 and 44 were 40% more likely to have a heart condition, Mishra added.

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Watch Video of the First All-Female Spacewalk

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will exit the International Space Station to replace a power controller that failed last weekend
Update, 2:58 p.m. EDT: NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have completed their spacewalk, becoming the first two women to venture outside the International Space Station at the same time. The two spacewalkers, over the course of about seven hours outside the ISS, successfully replaced a power controller that recently failed.

“Today was especially an honor, as we also recognize that this is a milestone. It symbolizes exploration by all that dare to dream and work hard to achieve that dream. Not only that, it’s a tribute to those who paved the way for us to be where we are, and we hope an inspiration to all future explorers,” Koch said upon reentering the space station. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will make history today as they step outside the International Space Station in pressure suits for the first all-female spacewalk. For five and a half hours, the two women will float outside the ISS as they work to replace a faulty power controller.

Koch and Meir were originally scheduled to install new batteries outside of the space station next Monday, but they were reassigned to replace a power controller as soon as possible after it failed last weekend, Mike Wall reports for NASA officials said the power controller failure is a repeat of a similar problem that occurred in April, so the astronauts need to retrieve the faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) and send it back to Earth for inspection.

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Interesting things about Joan of Arc you didn’t know

Today we remember Joan of Arc mostly from novels and really bad movies starring John Malkovich (as Charles VII, not as Joan). Joan of Arc doesn’t get much airtime in non-French textbooks, so most of what Americans know about her boils down to this: She was a rare female military leader, she talked to God, she was burned at the stake, and she looked good in shiny armor.

There really is no doubt, though, that Joan of Arc was a remarkable woman. Mark Twain called her “easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” She accomplished things no other woman had ever accomplished, and you could even say she made great things possible for all the women leaders who followed her. Still, much of what we know about Joan of Arc is embellished, totally made up, or hardly talked about, so here are some of the more obscure details from the great heroine’s short life.

Joan of Arc wasn’t from ‘Arc’ and her name wasn’t Joan

We call her “Joan of Arc” today, but that’s not what she called herself. For a start, she was French, and “Joan” isn’t a French name. Her given name was actually “Jehanne,” and she called herself “Jehanne la Pucelle” or “Joan the maid.”

So the English translation of “Jehanne” is “Joan,” which is why we English speakers don’t refer to her as “Jehanne.” So that makes sense, but what about “Arc”? Did Joan/Jehanne come from a town called Arc? Nope. According to the St. Joan Center, her father used that name — he was (possibly) from a place called Arc-en-Barrois, hence the surname d’Arc. And since modern people have a really hard time fathoming daughters who don’t inherit their fathers’ last names, we use “Arc” as Joan’s last name, too.

But “Joan of Arc” never used her father’s surname. She wasn’t born in Arc-en-Barrois but in a village called Domremy, which is where her father married her mother, Isabelle Romee. In France at that time it was the custom for girls to take their mothers’ names, so Jehanne/Joan really would have done that if it weren’t for the whole wearing armor and getting burned at the stake thing.

She may have suffered from epilepsy or schizophrenia

These days, when someone says “I’m hearing voices,” the usual response is “Um … oh-kay.” In Joan’s day, hearing voices meant you were either talking to God or to the devil, and either way it wasn’t really great news for you. If you talked to the devil you were a witch, which meant you’d get burned at the stake. If you talked to God you were a Very Important Person, which meant that eventually someone would decide you were actually talking to the devil, which meant you’d get burned at the stake.

Joan grew up devout, so when she started to hear voices she truly believed she was talking to God, who’d chosen her for a great and noble purpose. But God may not have been behind those voices — according to LiveScience, at least two modern neurologists have posthumously diagnosed Joan with “idiopathic partial epilepsy with auditory features,” a genetic form of epilepsy that affects only one part of the brain and can cause auditory hallucinations. Other historians have speculated that Joan suffered from schizophrenia.

Of course, those theories can never really be proven, unless historians are successful in locating the letters that Joan supposedly sealed with wax and “the imprint of a finger and a hair.” If Joan’s hair could be found, her DNA could maybe prove or disprove the epilepsy theory. But we probably don’t have to tell you how unlikely that is.

Her family wasn’t poor

Joan of Arc is often portrayed as a peasant girl who became a great military leader and champion for France, but those stories don’t really tell the whole truth. According to author Ronald Gower, there’s evidence that Joan’s family was not actually poor. After her death, neighbors testified that Joan’s father was a “doyden” or senior inhabitant of the village, which means he was next to the mayor in importance. The family were landholders — they had 20 acres, including farmland, meadow, and forest. They also had money stashed away for emergencies, which is a lot more than many modern families can claim to have.

In fact Joan’s family doesn’t appear to have been suffering at all — their annual income was said to be the equivalent of roughly 200 pounds, which was kind of a lot of money in those days — enough to live comfortably, raise kids, and give a little bit to the actual poor.

So what gives with the “poor peasant” stuff? It might have something to do with the whole underdog thing — it’s much nicer to imagine a poor girl becoming the heroine of France than it is to imagine a well-off girl doing the same thing. It’s definitely better for public morale, too, especially when the average family in those days tended to be more poor than not.

She was probably more like a figurehead than a soldier

We love to imagine Joan of Arc riding into battle at the head of her army, taking down English soldiers with one arm and praising God with the other. That’s probably not exactly how it happened, though, depending on who you ask.

Some of the people who knew Joan of Arc claimed she did all that — charged the British with a lance, fought alongside her men — but not everyone thinks those accounts are accurate. Historian Desmond Seward, who wrote The Hundred Years War: The English in France, said “Joan of Arc merely checked the English advance by reviving Dauphinist morale,” and French historian Edouard Perroy basically said she was just a figurehead: “She was content to exhort the combatants, say what advice her voices gave, step into the breach at critical moments and rally the infantry.”

On the other hand, it does seem hard to discount all the testimony from soldiers who knew her, though those stories probably were somewhat embellished. Let’s face it, if you’re going to brag about your close personal relationship with the hero of France, you’re probably going to tell people she was way more awesome than she actually was. However, one should never underestimate girl power.

She was basically a kid

Joan of Arc was a heroine, a leader, an inspirational figure — but sometimes we forget that she was still a child. According to National Geographic, at the age of 16, she made the journey to Chinon to tell Charles of Valois, the son of the deceased King Charles VI, that God wanted her to help liberate France from its enemies. Unsurprisingly, people needed some convincing — Joan was sent away before meeting Charles, but she returned the following year, still hopeful she could reach Charles and make him listen. He did listen, and then he gave her a suit of armor, a sword, and a horse and sent her off to the front lines.

It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that 17-year-old Joan was troubled by what she saw on the battlefield. During the battle to lift the siege of Orleans, she wept for fallen soldiers on both sides. In one story, she cried as she cradled the head of a dying enemy soldier. And although she held up remarkably well during her trial, she wept and prayed for mercy at the end of her life just like any other child would do. It didn’t seem to matter to her judges, though — they were determined to condemn her regardless of her youth and irrespective of her devotion to the same god they claimed to serve.

She was a cross-dresser, but not for the reasons you think

One of Joan’s most famous quirks had to do with her manner of dress. Today, with a few idiotic holdouts, most people recognize the lame-osity of caring whether a woman chooses to wear a dress, a pair of jeans, or a suit of armor — but during Joan’s time it was super, super important. In fact it was so important that it was actually illegal for a woman to dress like a man.

Joan didn’t dress the way she did to be more comfortable in battle or because she wanted to be a man (both perfectly valid reasons). Instead, it’s likely that Joan wore men’s clothing because she was afraid she’d be raped if she didn’t. According to the Joan of Arc Archive, while being held by the English she fastened her hose to her tunic with 20 cords, and her boots went all the way up to her waist and were also attached to her tunic, presumably because all that stuff would take forever for an assailant to remove. The fact that she had to do this at all was pretty repulsive since female prisoners were generally placed in the custody of nuns, but the English made an exception for her and left in the hands of soldiers instead. That was fine for them, since they could then point to her cross-dressing as evidence of heresy.

Ultimately, she was executed for wearing men’s clothing

When she was captured in 1430, the English charged Joan of Arc with a bunch of seriously lame crimes that we would never dream of charging anyone with today, including witchcraft, heresy, and cross-dressing. The 70 charges were eventually reduced down to 12, though they still included cross-dressing, perhaps because that was easier to prove.

Anyway, then came a long trial that would have been humiliating, except for the part where Joan was so well-spoken and clever that her inquisitors decided to make her public trial a private one because she was making them all look stupid. After that, Joan was forced to sign a document denying that her visions were real and agreeing not to wear men’s clothing anymore. Because remember, that last bit was super important.

According to Mental Floss, once her life imprisonment sentence was handed down, she went back to wearing men’s clothing again. She told interrogators that she did so to protect herself from the guards, aka exactly what she’d been saying all along. She also told interrogators she wasn’t being totally honest when she said she didn’t really hear voices, and though that certainly contributed to her ultimate fate, it seems the cross-dressing was what set everyone off again. So then the bishop in charge decided she was a relapsed heretic, and she was sentenced to death.

She probably died from heat stroke

If you’re ever unlucky enough to be sentenced to death at the stake, you may hope to die of smoke inhalation or heat exhaustion, both much less painful than burning to death. If published accounts of Joan of Arc’s death are to be believed, she was spared the final agony of death by fire. According to the St. Joan Center, she probably died from heat exhaustion.

As it turns out, even medieval people weren’t necessarily so bloodthirsty and cruel that they always enjoyed watching the agonizing last moments of someone who was condemned to die in the most horrible way possible. Executioners were sometimes given broad authority to ease the pain of the convicted, either by slitting the unfortunate person’s throat, strangling them, or piling a lot of green wood around their feet so they’d die from the smoke. There isn’t any evidence that the first two things happened, but Joan almost certainly didn’t die from the flames — there wasn’t a single witness who said she screamed in agony, which is impossible to avoid when your skin is burning. Instead, she cried out “Jesus! Jesus!” and then she bowed her head and didn’t make another sound. That’s not exactly consistent with painful agony, so that’s some consolation for her untimely death, but not much.

Let’s burn her, and then burn her ashes, and then burn her again

Because one burning was clearly not enough, Joan of Arc was burned a second time — and then a third time. Why? Well, according to The Guardian it was especially important to the Cardinal of Winchester, who ordered the second burning, maybe because you wouldn’t want anyone climbing up on the pyre and collecting souvenirs or anything.

But that wasn’t enough, so she was burned a third time — although the legends about the third burning are somewhat in disagreement. Some accounts say the soldiers who were tasked with cleaning up the post-execution mess found her intact heart, still full of blood, untouched among the ashes. They desperately tried to get rid of it by dumping sulfur, oil, and charcoal on it in the hope they could get it to burn, but it stubbornly refused to become anything but a really morbid and gross symbol of its former owner’s innocence. The soldiers cried out that they’d burned a saint and were doomed, and that’s when they dumped her heart and her ashes into the Seine River. And so endeth the tale of Joan the Maid, except of course that’s not where it ended.

Joan of Arc didn’t really die, see? Now give us gifts.

Siblings are super-annoying because that’s a prerequisite for sharing someone’s genetics. According to the St. Joan Center, Joan had brothers, and after her death they sat around musing about how they might be able to keep a good thing going despite the tragic death of that good thing’s central figure. In 1434, three years after their sister’s death, a woman came forward claiming to be Joan of Arc (her real name was Claude), which was of course patently ridiculous since Joan had died in front of a huge crowd and had never once said the words, “You’ve got the wrong girl!” But her brothers Pierre and Jean d’Arc accepted it, and Joan of Arc lived again.

Now you might imagine they had political reasons, but no. No, Pierre and Jean were in it for the money. For six years, they traveled France and presented the imposter as the real Joan of Arc, and then happily accepted all the gifts that were lavished upon the fake heroine by an admiring population. Their ruse went all the way to the king, Charles VII, which was stupid since he’d actually known the real Joan of Arc. When Claude couldn’t repeat a “secret” the real Joan had once shared with Charles, she was forced to confess.

Joan of Arc gets cleared of wrongdoing — 20 years too late






What life was like for women under Genghis Khan

If you’ve ever actually stopped to think about it, you probably assumed that life was pretty terrible for women under Genghis Khan. And you’d be forgiven for making that assumption. Most cultures that existed in the distant past have a not-exactly great reputation for treating women with respect and fairness, so why would you think that a dictator as brutal as Genghis Khan would be any different?

Most of what you’re about to read will probably be kind of surprising (some of it not so much, but more surprising than not). The truth is kind of a mixed bag. Some women fared very well under Genghis Khan while others suffered terribly. But for the most part, the Mongols had some pretty progressive ideas about women’s rights, at least compared to many of the other cultures that existed at the time — Western culture included.

Don’t wish for a time machine yet, though. For the most part, women still ranked below their husbands and fathers so it’s not like they were out there becoming CEOs of their own worldwide yurt enterprises or anything. They still had to fit into neatly outlined roles and meet certain expectations, it’s just that they enjoyed a lot of freedom compared to women in other nations around the world. So here is the truth about it was really like to be female under the reign of the infamous Mongolian conqueror. More or less.

Your husband had to listen to you. No, really.

Women were actually respected in Mongol society (shocking, right?) and men were expected to listen to the advice of their wives. Wait, what? In Western culture, men have really only been listening to their wives for the past 50 or 60 years (well, some of them have been, anyway), so how did the Mongols, brutal conquerors of half of Asia, manage to have such liberated ideas?

Well, Mongols were brutal fighters, to be sure, but they weren’t barbarians — at least not in every aspect of their lives. Mongolian women were respected, often served as leaders, and were highly valued members of society. In fact according to Amonbe, the Mongols believed that a man ought to marry an older woman, because an older woman would have more wisdom than her husband, and would therefore be able to guide him in not making stupid life decisions. In fact, no one respected a dude who didn’t listen to his wife — it was a sign of immaturity and unmanliness. So just in case you thought that fierce Mongol warrior must also be a brute to the women in his life, well, you’re mistaken. Mind, blown.

Genghis Khan’s courts could tell your husband to be more romantic

When you imagine those early historical relationships between men and women, you probably think about some unsavory things. After all, we all harbor images of cavemen dragging cavewomen around by the hair — as it once was, it probably was through a lot of history. Except of course we don’t really have any idea how cavemen treated women, and those images were all mostly drawn by misogynistic cartoonists in the 1950s, but whatever. Throughout history, an awful lot of women got abused by an awful lot of men, so it’s probably a safe bet that whatever historical culture you’re looking at, the men ruled pretty much everything, both out of the bedroom and in it, too.

According to Amonbe, though, it wasn’t exactly like that in Mongolian society. Mongol women had a lot of control in the home and in the bedroom, too. In fact, if you were a Mongol woman and your husband wasn’t up to performing his husbandly bedroom duties — and we don’t mean dusting and making the bed — you could actually petition the government to intervene. Imagine going down to the local courthouse and presenting documented evidence of your husband’s romantic failings, and asking the court for a Viagra prescription. If that’s not enough to convince your husband to be attentive, probably nothing is.

No foot binding over here, thanks

Meanwhile in China, south of the Mongol empire, Neo-Confucianism outlined strict rules for female behavior — women were supposed to be chaste and obedient, and wives should basically exist only to serve their husbands, except when their husbands die, and then they should exist only to serve their husbands’ families because they weren’t supposed to remarry. Also, women in the upper classes had their feet bound starting at age six, because a three-inch foot made them a hot item, a four-inch foot made them a good consolation prize, and a five-inch foot … well, women with five-inch feet might as well start on that collection of cats now because spinsterhood is calling.

In Mongolia, women were not having any of that. According to Amonbe, Mongolian women were tough — they raced horses, they fought in battle, and there was always a women-only round in the archery competitions. So Mongolian women were basically just super-extra awesome and badass and they did not especially want to have tiny feet. Mongolian women were not thought of as subservient trophy wives, either — they were expected to be strong, fierce, and hard-working. And when cultures place those kinds of expectations on women, that tends to inform the family dynamic. Women who are strong and fierce can’t also be complacent and subservient.

Under Genghis Khan, women were the cart-masters

Imagine if you were the person in charge of driving and maintaining the family car and also, you could make all your male family members walk. Well, the Mongols mostly rode horses, but you get the idea. In Mongolia during the time of Genghis Khan, the women were in charge of the carts and the men were strictly not allowed to ride in them, unless they were sick. That probably had more to do with the fact that Mongol men were supposed to be excellent horsemen (so they could be excellent warriors and pillagers) and riding in a cart took precious hours away from equestrian practice, but anyway. The carts were the domain of the women, and no men allowed.

Mongolian carts weren’t just a way to go back and forth to the grocery store, either, they were one of the most important components of the nomadic lifestyle. According to the San Diego Tribune, the carts carried the felt tents that the Mongols lived in, and most of their goods and supplies, too. So if the cart drivers decided to go on strike, well, the whole community was in trouble. Just another great example of “happy wife, happy life.”

Women were expected to do physically demanding tasks

In a nomadic society, you can’t afford to have slackers. There’s just too much work to be done. So that means it there’s no room for anyone who can’t make him or herself useful, women and children included. According to the University of Victoria, Mongolian women were not only expected to shoulder a lot of the responsibility, they were also expected to do a lot of the heavy lifting. It was the womens’ job to take down and put up the tents, and they had to do it quickly and efficiently. They were also expected to be able to control the tribes’ often vast herds of animals, and do all that stereotypical women stuff, too, like raising the kids and cooking a meal every night.

So women, as well as men, had the responsibility of doing the sort of work that today we’d probably call heavy manual labor. It’s really not surprising, then, that Mongolian men had so much respect for women — it’s hard to disrespect someone who’s as hard-working and capable as you are, especially if you’re seeing it with your own eyes every single day.

Women often faced hardship and handled it with grace and fortitude, too. Genghis Khan’s own mother was forced to raise her children on game and wild roots because they’d been abandoned by her tribe after the death of her husband. That upbringing probably had a lot to do with Genghis’ progressive ideas about women.

If Genghis Khan says “marry my daughter,” you should totally do it

Genghis Khan had four poorly behaved sons, but most of his children were girls. And by most historical accounts, Genghis appears to have valued his daughters just as much as he valued his sons. In fact, the San Diego Tribune says he once killed a guy who turned down his daughter’s hand in marriage, so yeah. Saying “no” to Genghis Khan was a terrible idea, but it was maybe an even worse idea to say “no” to one of his daughters.

Genghis was fond of quoting a proverb at his daughters’ weddings: “If a two-shaft cart breaks the second shaft, the ox cannot pull it. If a two-wheel cart breaks the second wheel, it cannot move.” If you’re not good at metaphor, Genghis was basically saying that men and women are two essential parts of the cosmic puzzle — without one part, the whole can’t function. Of course afterward, he would send the groom off to die on some dangerous military mission in the middle of nowhere, but whatever. It’s a nice thought.

Marrying one of Genghis Khan’s daughters was maybe a sentence of death

Genghis Khan loved his daughters, but he also pretty clearly loved what they could do for him politically. In fact, he was actually quite clever in arranging marriages for his daughters.

Now it’s worth noting that women in Mongol society had the right to refuse marriage if it was to a man they disliked, and that alone was pretty progressive for a society that existed 800 years ago. But for the daughters of Genghis, though, it almost didn’t matter whether or not they disliked their new husband, because they weren’t likely to stay married to him for very long.

According to the Tyee, Genghis would typically choose a royal husband for his daughters, preferably a king from a friendly nation. If the king had other wives, they got the boot, so let’s just backpedal a little and say that life was pretty okay for most women living in Genghis Khan’s empire but not really for the wives of the kings who actually got along with him. Anyway, that sucked for the king’s former wives but it kind of actually also sucked for the king, because Genghis would always send his daughters’ new husbands off immediately on some dangerous mission in a Mongol war zone, where he’d almost certainly be killed. Then, Genghis’ daughter would take over the kingdom, thus expanding her father’s already massive empire.

Life under Genghis Khan wasn’t great for everyone, though

Living peacefully under Genghis Khan was cool, but what if you were a woman in one of his conquered nations? Well, it wasn’t much different from being a woman in a war zone pretty much anywhere else during that time. Women, gold, horses, and other objects were considered spoils of war, which meant soldiers got to do pretty much whatever they wanted to do with them, and you don’t have to stretch your imagination too much to figure out what that means.

On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to be super-extra beautiful, you could be forcibly entered into one of Genghis Khan’s weird beauty pageants. According to Ancient Origns, once Genghis’ soldiers were done with the pillaging and the abusing, they brought Genghis himself the most beautiful women they’d encountered. These women alone would be spared from the antics of the conquering army so they could be paraded in front of the man himself. The winner got the honor of becoming one of Genghis Khan’s many wives, which was probably preferable to ending up as the loser, though Ancient Origins doesn’t say what happened to them. Evidently, though, women who Genghis deemed not to be up to his standards of beauty were sent off with the soldiers to be abused and then discarded. So yeah, great to be a woman in peacetime Mongolia but when Genghis comes to town you might just want to emigrate to China.

Genghis Khan liked to romance his enemies’ wives

Genghis Khan wasn’t an especially gracious winner — after he was done with the conquering, he enjoyed abducting his enemies’ wives and either romancing them or brutalizing them, depending on how cool they were with being abducted by Genghis Khan. In fact in one of his most famous quotes he waxed poetic about the joys of the post-conquering aftermath: “The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.” Nice guy, that Genghis.

He wasn’t always content to romance just one woman at a time, either. According to Ancient Origins, his army commanders were all super-impressed with his manliness because he frequently spent his evenings with multiple women. He wasn’t that into birth control, either, in fact by modern estimates Genghis Khan has roughly 16 million descendants. Now, the study that put forth this hypothesis can’t actually prove that the individual they identified is Genghis Khan, since no one knows where the Mongol leader is buried and therefore they can’t recover any of his DNA. But this person lived roughly 1,000 years ago in the Mongol Empire and must have had access to a lot of women, and there really aren’t that many people from history that fit that description, so the assumption is pretty sound.

You got to have a bunch of sister-wives

There was no such thing as male monogamy in Genghis Khan’s Mongolia. Men could have multiple wives, but each one would have her own tent where she’d live with her own children, so it’s not like the wives had to hang out and pretend to like each other or anything. According to History on the Net, though, the whole family usually got along pretty well, so maybe jealousy and monogamy are mere constructs of our unenlightened Western society. Nah.

A man’s first wife was considered his legal wife, so that made things somewhat less complicated from an inheritance perspective. The children of the first wife got more of his booty when he died, which is a pretty handy rule for a guy like Genghis who had 500 wives and so many children that he probably couldn’t even remember all of their names. Imagine what his last will and testament would have looked like if he’d had to divide his fortune up equally among them. “To that one wife who lives on the corner of Mare and Main, you know, the one with the mole on her left ankle who makes a pretty good Mongolian beef and broccoli stir fry but whose name I can’t actually remember, I bequeath this one gold coin which is literally all I can afford to give her considering that I have to divide my fortune up equally between like 15,000 people.” Yeah, that never would have worked.

After your husband died, you were in charge

There was no expectation of remarriage after your husband died, and so a lot of women didn’t remarry. Because why would they? If you were the first wife, you basically inherited everything and became head of the household. After that you got to live pretty much autonomously and independently, which is not something that was especially common around the world during that time period. By contrast, Chinese women of the time were also not expected to remarry (in fact they were discouraged from remarrying), but they had to move in with their dead husbands’ families and basically serve as slave labor for the rest of their lives, so it’s actually pretty shocking that more of them didn’t go pounding on Genghis’ door in the hope of becoming his five hundred and first wife. Because being left without an inheritance actually sounds way, way better than having to wait on your former in-laws for the rest of your life.

According to History on the Net, Mongolian women who remained unmarried after their husbands’ deaths were supposedly acting out of loyalty to their lost spouse but let’s face it, the whole freedom, independence, and power thing was probably enough to make just about anyone feel really danged loyal to that dead guy, whether he was a decent husband or not.

Genghis Khan wrote some pretty pro-woman laws later in life

After he was done conquering most of Asia, Genghis Khan decided he needed to write some laws. Because he had a reputation to protect, you know, as a fair and rational dude who was not actually hungry for the blood and wives of his enemies. Sure, Genghis, whatever you say.

Anyway, the document Genghis produced with the assistance of his actually-literate advisor Tatatungo was called Yasak, and it was meant to help keep the peace in Genghis’ newly conquered lands.

According to, there are no surviving copies of the Yasak but it was evidently pretty progressive, at least in places. Notable was the Yasak’s moratorium against the kidnapping of wives and the selling of women. The Yasak also forbade child soldiers and slavery (or at the very least the slavery of other Mongols) and specifically prohibited discrimination based on religion — in fact it was one of the first known legal codes that allowed its citizens religious freedom. It was a pretty remarkable document until you get to the stuff about cutting horse thieves in two with a sword and holding marriage celebrations for dead children. So much for progressive thought.


Henry Sapiecha


Why Are Pockets So Rare in Women’s Clothes?

There’s a serious lack of pockets in the fashion industry. Somehow, as useful and ubiquitous as they’ve been in men’s jackets, pants, and even shirts, they never seemed to catch on in women’s fashion. Which is strange, since women’s obsession with functional pockets is well-documented — and has been for years. How can it be so hard just to put pockets in women’s clothing? Well, because there’s a couple of centuries of history to resist that simple little convenience.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, Le Poche

In the middle ages, men and women alike carried their essentials in pouches separate from their clothes, which might be tied to a belt or slung from a rope. For security, you’d make sure to fasten the tiny bag beneath your outer layers of clothing, which might have slits for easy access. Around the late 17th century, someone got the brilliant idea to sew tiny pouches right into clothing — men’s clothing, that is. After all, the big hoop skirts of women’s fashion at the time were the perfect place to conceal an exterior bag. They might not have been surprise jumpsuits, but they worked for carrying keys, combs, and other essentials. As fashions changed, however, women’s dresses slimmed down to the point that there wasn’t even room for those.

Votes for Better Coats

In fact, it wasn’t long before the cause of pockets was explicitly being tied up in political movements of the time. One group, the Rational Dress Society, campaigned in the 1800s to transform women’s fashion for better mobility and functionality. The society predated most of the Suffragette Movement, but it’s easy to imagine that there was a lot of crossover in the interests and goals of both groups. In fact, in 1910, a New York Times writer covering a fashion show marveled at the “Suffragette suit,” which featured no fewer than six pockets “all in sight and all easy to find, even by the wearer.” Gosh — we can’t even imagine the scandal.

Pockets on women’s clothing are more commonplace these days, but their relative scarcity compared to men’s pockets still points toward a fashion industry uninterested in scratching a largely un-scratched itch. How many pieces of women’s clothing have only a pocket barely large enough to hold a driver’s license? Clearly, part of the issue is that the same people determining who gets pockets are usually also selling fashionable handbags — but the people have spoken (and have been speaking for centuries): The dressmaker that puts big pockets in every gown will always find a fanbase.

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At the turn of the 20th century, fashionable socialites with names like Astor, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt leveraged their influence and media-darling status to bring about social change.


Henry Sapiecha

A MUM who has given birth to 44 children has been banned from having any more babies

A MUM who has given birth to 44 children has been banned from having any more babies.

Mariam Nabatanzi delivered twins a year after she was married off at the age of 12.

Five more sets of twins followed – along with four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets.

Three years ago, however, the 39-year-old Ugandan was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to support their surviving 38 children alone, The Sun reported.

This has thrown her family into poverty.

She lives with her children in four cramped houses made of cement blocks and topped with corrugated iron in a village surrounded by coffee fields 50 kilometres north of Kampala.

Now 40, doctors have taken action to stop Ms Nabatanzi having more children.

She said the doctor told her he had “cut my uterus from inside”.

Her epic run of pregnancies began after her first sets of twins were born.

When she went to the doctor it was noted that she had unusually large ovaries. He advised her that birth control like pills might cause health problems.

Yet the children kept coming … and coming.

Family sizes are at their largest in Africa.

In Uganda, the fertility rate averages out at 5.6 children per woman, one of the continent’s highest, and more than double the global average of 2.4 children, according to the World Bank.

But her 38-child family is probably the country’s biggest brood.

Mariam Nabatanzi, 39, has given birth to 44 children, including six who tragically died, due to her abnormally large ovaries. Picture: Henry Wasswa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Dr Charles Kiggundu, a gynaecologist at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, told the Daily Monitor that the most likely cause of Ms Nabatanzi’s extreme fertility was hereditary.

“Her case is genetic predisposition to hyper-ovulate – releasing multiple eggs in one cycle – which significantly increases the chance of having multiple births,” he said.

“It is always genetic.”

Ms Nabatanzi’s last pregnancy, three years ago, had complications.

It was her sixth set of twins and one of them died in childbirth, her sixth child to die.

Then her husband – often absent for long stretches – abandoned her. His name is now a family curse.

Ms Nabatanzi refers to him using an expletive.

“I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering,” she said during an interview at her home, hands clasped as her eyes welled up.

“All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money.”

Desperate for cash, Ms Nabatanzi turns a hand to everything: hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling herbal medicine. The money is swallowed up by food, medical care, clothing and school fees.

On a grimy wall in one room of her home hang proud portraits of some of her children graduating from school, gold tinsel around their necks.

Her eldest child Ivan Kibuka, 23, had to drop out of secondary school when the money ran out.

He said: “Mum is overwhelmed, the work is crushing her, we help where we can, like in cooking and washing, but she still carries the whole burden for the family. I feel for her.”

Ms Nabatanzi’s desire for a large family has its roots in tragedy.

The Ugandan woman, who has been banned from having more children, sits in front of the house with 12 of her children in Kasawo on April 28, 2017. Picture: Henry Wasswa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Three days after she was born, Ms Nabatanzi’s mother abandoned the family: her father, the newborn girl and her five siblings.

“She just left us,” said Ms Nabatanzi sombrely, as some of her ragged children played on the dirt floor while others did chores.

After her father remarried, her stepmother poisoned the five older children with crushed glass mixed in their food.

They all died.

Ms Nabatanzi escaped because she was visiting a relative, she says.

“I was seven years old then, too young to even understand what death actually meant. I was told by relatives what had happened,” she said.

She grew up wanting to have six children to rebuild her shattered family.

Providing a home for 38 children is a constant challenge.

Twelve of the children sleep on metal bunk beds with thin mattresses in one small room with grime-caked walls. In the other rooms, lucky children pile onto shared mattresses while the others sleep on the dirt floor.

Older children help look after the young ones and everyone helps with chores like cooking.

A single day can require 25 kilograms of maize flour, Ms Nabatanzi says. Fish or meat are rare treats.

A roster on a small wooden board nailed to a wall spells out washing or cooking duties.

“On Saturday we all work together,” it reads.

Having endured such a hard childhood herself, Ms Nabatanzi’s greatest wish now is for her children to be happy.

“I started taking on adult responsibilities at an early stage,” she said. “I have not had joy, I think, since I was born.”


Henry Sapiecha


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