The Renaissance Battle of the Sexes Online!
In the Renaissance, namely Florence in the early 1400’s, marriage rates were declining and the average age of a marrying male was rising. This caused an extreme difficulty since many fathers would die while their children were still young, robbing them of a male role model. The male was expected to be the disciplinary and model for the next generation, and severe social difficulties resulted from his lack of presence during the adolescent period. This overexposure to their mother, along with experiences with older homosexual advances and flirtations in the street, caused many young boys to become "feminized" in the eyes of their society.
During this time period, the "feminized" male would avoid fathering through methods deemed inappropriate by the church, with either female or male companions. One major figure who spoke against the rising homosexuality rate was Bernardino of Siena. He spoke out widely against sodomy and proclaimed it as unholy. Additionally, Bernardino described it as a sort of addiction that once started could not truly be stopped "until age thirty-two." Looking into family structure, he implied that parents of these young offenders just did not care enough about their offspring, and the children would go out as "perfectly polished" boys to be easily corrupted by those in the street. Bernardino even implied an underlying desire by the parents to have their children picked up by wealthy patrons, ensuring them political office. It seemed that love and power were more important than family. Firmly, he preached that homosexuality was the result of not attending confession or communion.
In the end, the problem slowly resolved itself before the end of the 15th century, through boys’ confraternities. The confraternities had existed previously, but not for this purpose. These institutions, rather than family, replaced the missing father as a character-builder for young males.
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Note: This page has been created as a result of research done by students at Plymouth-Salem High School as part of a Humanities class. All data presented, unless otherwise noted, derives from these research materials. Any inaccuracy of information is accidental. Thank you for visiting our site!