Saturday, May 30, 2015

I thought it meant a male pig...

Interesting research tidbit:

I have a character in Fortune who is a veteran of the Crimean War, or the Russian War as it was called in those days. He isn't an old vet, for the story takes place in 1868, twelve years after the Peace was signed. He's a young vet of about 36 who plays an important role in the book, and whose life was forever changed by the War.

Although I plan to make only brief references to the battles that involved him, I needed to learn facts about the war, what caused it, who was involved, etc. I've been researching  on the internet. And one word kept coming up to describe attitudes in Russia and England at the time -- chauvinism.

It had a preconceived notion about the word and thought it had more recent origins. Here's what I found:

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.

chauvinism -- word derived from the name of Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier of the First French Empire. Used first for a passionate admiration of Napoleon, it now expresses exaggerated and aggressive nationalism. As a social phenomenon, chauvinism is essentially modern, becoming marked in the era of acute national rivalries and imperialism beginning in the 19th cent. It has been encouraged by mass communication, originally by the cheap newspaper. Chauvinism exalts consciousness of nationality, spreads hatred of minorities and other nations, and is associated with militarism, imperialism, and racism. In the 1960s, the term “male chauvinist” appeared in the women’s liberation movement; it is applied to males who refuse to regard females as equals.

So there you go -- the word chauvinism was coined as a term for excessive nationalistic fervor. (Not unlike global attitudes nowadays, hm?)

Well, as the 19th century wars, like the wars of today, were decided upon, planned and executed by men, I see chauvinism as a man thing.

Would it be different if women were in charge? That's a whole other story, something in the realm of Mythology. Or Science Fiction/Fantasy. To some, probably, Horror.


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