Bedroom Politics: Mistress or Mastermind?

Bedroom Politics: Mistress or Mastermind?

Why did women willingly choose to be the 'other woman' during the 14th to 17th century?

Women had two options: being a wife, which meant popping out babies, running a household, and living within the tight confines of society's expectations. Or being a mistress, which meant a life of luxury, the king's attention, and influence in politics. Which would you choose?

The top mistress, the 'favorite,' was like the Queen of the Side Chicks. All the finest things, the best food, luxury apartments, and the king's ear – she had it all. In an era when a woman's voice was as unheard as a silent fart, she held sway. She had power.

But let's not sugarcoat the mistress gig. One false move and you could lose everything. This was a high-risk, high-reward job, and the women who chose it knew exactly what they were getting into.

The fucked-up part? The system was rigged. Women were pushed into these roles because they had few opportunities.

Women were shoved into these roles 'cause the men held all the cards.

Let's talk about one of my favorite femme fatales, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson also called Madame de Pompadour. The name's a mouthful, but trust me, this woman was a boss. She didn't just warm King Louis XV's bed, she was also his trusted advisor. She ruled from 1745 to 1764 - that's 19 scandalous years of influencing domestic policy, foreign policy, and all the juicy court politics. This babe wasn't just a player, she was the fucking GAME.

Pompadour didn't just select new drapes for the palace. She appointed officials, directed French policy, even advised the king on military strategy during the Seven Years' War. Who else but a badass woman could keep a king's attention for two decades?

There's a bitter irony in praising Madame de Pompadour for her assertiveness and influence. We can't forget that she got there by being the other woman. It's a complicated narrative, telling us as much about the times as it does about the people involved.

The reality is, back in the day, most women didn't have many options. You were either born into power, married into it, or had to play your cards right to secure a bit of influence. For many women, becoming a mistress was just that - a strategic move to gain power, influence, and financial security. It's not exactly an inspiring feminist story, but it illustrates what lengths women had to go to survive in a world dominated by men.

And it wasn't all catfights and backstabbing. Take Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Diane was the King's older mistress and Catherine was the Queen. And guess what? They worked together. Diane taught Catherine how to navigate the snake pit of French court politics, while Catherine turned a blind eye to Diane's relationship with the King. It was survival, pure and simple. This shows that women can make space for each other, even in the most fucked-up circumstances.

At the end of the day, queens and mistresses were women trying to make their way in a world that didn't value them. They were seen as nothing more than a pretty face and a baby-making machine. Marriage was just business, and mistresses were part of the deal. It was men creating these circumstances, not the women.

That's why we need to learn the rules of the game and bend them to our will. And if they don't bend, we fucking break them. Because we deserve more than just being an option. Yes, it's ironic that we're talking about not being an option while discussing mistresses. But these ladies showed us how to demand respect and claim our space, even when society was against them.

They weren't just willing to be an option, they clawed their way into becoming a necessity.

Is it fucked up? Absolutely. But it also shows that we can rewrite the rules, even when the odds are stacked against us.

The mistresses? They were the walking, talking versions of our collective 'Shadow' - they embodied the repressed sexual desires and power dynamics of their time.

The 'Shadow' concept comes from Carl Jung, the granddaddy of psychoanalysis. It's all the stuff we don't want to admit to ourselves - the secret desires, the fucked-up fears, the hidden insecurities. The mistresses lived it. They fulfilled the repressed sexual desires of the kings, while their wives were treated like glorified incubators. Fucked up, right?

And here's the thing, the mistresses, symbols of society's 'Shadow,' were sometimes more powerful than the respectable, 'virtuous' wives. If that's not a slap in the face of the norms, I don't know what is.

So yeah, the repression of the 'Shadow' wasn't just about keeping the skeletons in the closet. It was about power - who gets to call the shots, and who gets shoved aside.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen power dynamics play out in various aspects of my life. As a young and assertive professional, I commanded respect and authority, influencing my teams and earning promotions along the way. And it wasn’t just about rank and title. My extroverted personality, charisma, and genuine curiosity for others have always served as my secret weapons, whether it was getting myself on exclusive guest lists or charming my way to a free latte.

Living life by my own rules, I’ve also been an influence on other women craving a life worth living. In many ways, I’ve felt the push and pull of power dynamics just like the mistresses and queens of the past, albeit in a different context. Through it all, I've learned to channel my own 'Pompadour' – navigating complex power structures, breaking norms, and staying true to myself.

Women like Pompadour and de Poitiers knew the rules of their time and bent them to their will. The power dynamics they navigated are still present today - they've just evolved. Recognizing them, understanding them, and learning how to use them to our advantage is crucial. We need to remember that we are not options, but decision makers.

So, what can we take away from this?

Remember, your power isn't determined by your circumstances, but by how you react to them. These women, in their own ways, understood that and wielded their power as they saw fit.

Let's get something straight. The purpose of this post isn't to encourage women to become 'the other woman,' or to condone infidelity. Nope, that's not the takeaway here. It's about highlighting the power dynamics that were at play, and how they've evolved over time.

Remember, the circumstances back then were different - women were forced into a corner and had limited choices. Today, we're fortunate to have more rights, more freedom, and more choices. Our fight is different, but it's still about power, influence, and respect.

Let's take a moment to acknowledge how we kick ass in the face of modern-day power dynamics. We are the queens of our time, the mistresses of our destiny.

So, what have you taken from this? Have you seen these power dynamics play out in your life? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

Keep flipping the game, ladies.

Marilyne Mendoza

IG: @Marelyneeeee

Back to blog

Leave a comment