Fundamentally, I believe that men are frightened of women and have always been so. There are a myriad of jokes at the expense of women but I believe told defensively by men. My position comes in part from history.
The country was deep in crisis. Civil war and plague had swept the land, we were falling behind our European neighbours in terms of growth and the Middle East was growing stronger. Now another threat loomed over the country: it seemed that England was being overrun by women. Men genuinely believed that they were outnumbered by the opposite sex.
In fact there was no statistical evidence to prove that was indeed the situation. Much of the evidence was based solely on opinion.
Alchemist John Heyden noted in a journal 'For since the number of females do far exceed the males ... ', while scholar Thomas Browne declared that, due to 'the unequal number of both sexes, (polygamy) may also be necessary'.
There were some quite reasonable explanations for the belief in excess numbers of women. The civil war had brought about the deaths of huge number of men and others had left for new lives abroad. However, early men were likely to make numerical claims when there were too many women of a 'problematic' kind. Women were expected to be silent, chaste and more or less confined to the household. When times were tough as they were in this turbulent century any group of women seen to band together for political or religious purposes were seen as 'troublesome'. I often wonder if anything has really changed.
Nellie Bly may have been considered a troublesome female when she decided as a journalist that it may be good to follow in the footsteps of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 days. She set off on 14th November 1889 and completed the journey in 72 days. As a result she became quite famous and even had a board game created as a result of her journey.
Can you hear that distant rumbling? Is it an earth tremor or a monster truck? No it is enumerable male 17th century corpses spinning in their graves. Can you imagine the turmoil if they could observe 21st century women.