Episode 11: Gender Roles in Ancient Rome with Jenny Williamson

Are we all living in ancient Rome? Because it kind of feels that way to us. We’re joined by Jenny Williamson, co-host of Ancient History Fangirl, to dig into how weirdly familiar gender and sexuality were 2 millennia ago in ancient Rome, and how a lot of those ideas were passed down to us today (hint: it was colonization). Along the way, we hit a lot of questions about public bathrooms and underwear, why the Roman public was so nosy about sexual positions, and dark foundational myths that kept Roman women “in line.” We also visit gender-bending religious cults and their roles in slave uprisings, a mermaid goddess and feminist ducks, and our favorite Roman women: Vulvia and Cervixia. And, hey, if you don’t want to live in constant fear of slave revolts, maybe don’t build a colonial empire on slavery? Just a thought.

Jenny Williamson (she/her) is the co-host and co-creator of the Ancient History Fangirl podcast, which discusses true stories and tall tales of the ancient world. She attended St. Lawrence university, where she did not major in history or classics or any such thing. She is a fiction writer, poet, and actress living in New York City; has published a poetry chapbook with Finishing Line Press; and is currently obsessed with improving her motorcycle handling skills.

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Show Notes

  • You can hear lots more about most of the topics we discusssed in this episode on Ancient History Fangirl!
  • Don’t miss “Sobbin’ Women,” the (musical) retelling of the Roman myth, from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Sounds like a great time…

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