In honor of Women’s History Month, I thought we could explore three of the most bizarre jobs assigned to women in history. While many odd jobs still exist today, these are most likely positions you’ve never heard of and no longer exist in today’s world. Which is a good thing, believe me.
|A physician prescribing bloodletting leeches|
to a young woman.
Most of us have probably heard of the fascination that 19th century medicine had with bloodletting and leeches, but did you ever think about the people who had to collect the critters? This was a difficult job, and not one that paid well. Thence, it was those who could not easily find work and were the poorest who would be employed in this occupation, which means it was one of the few occupations women could obtain.
Thankfully, this is an occupation that no longer exists, due to the decline in demand for leeches. The leeches are glad too, since they were nearly extinct by the time the bloodletting craze ended.
|Match Girls on strike.|
Many of them with Phossy jaw.
Have you ever heard the story of the Little Match Girl? In that tragic story, the little girl was merely selling matches. But these match girls were the ones who dipped the tips into the white phosphorus chemical to make them light. This was a tremendously dangerous job, some of the dangers not known until it was too late.
|Match factory workers|
If you'd like more information on the strike, there is a detailed article on Wikipedia, which is very interesting and worth the read.
The thing that makes this one of the most bizarre jobs, is the effects that the phosphorus poisoning caused. One of the effects was what is known as “Phossy Jaw” which, in severe cases, causes a person’s jaw to glow in the dark. It starts out with flu-like symptoms and toothaches, but it leads to tooth loss, recurrent abscesses, and death of bone cells. After three to six months, the death of the bone cells in the jaw led to the dead bone separating from the live bone. If the affected bones were not removed, the victim of the disease would die of organ failure.
Heoibikuni was an occupation for Japanese women during the Edo period. The position was basically a servant to young Japanese noble women. It was their job to escort them on excursions as well, serving as a bit of a chaperone. She was basically a hairdresser, wardrobe coordinator and personal assistant.
She lives in Colorado Springs near her favorite mountain, in a small “castle” with her prince charming. Between enjoying life as a new mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.