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“A whistling girl and a crowing hen, never came to any good end”

There are many interpretations of this saying and many definitions of a “crowing hen.” In the animal world, a crowing hen is that just that, a hen that crows like a rooster, an action that is traditionally considered unnatural. In fact, the sound has been described by many as shrill and uncomfortable.

 

Accordingly, the phrase was commonly applied to human females in the 19th century when they performed activities that were considered unnatural and ill-omened—in other words, activities generally reserved for men. The earliest recorded version of this proverb is Scottish, and dates from 1721: “A crooning cow, a crowing Hen and a whistling Maid boded never luck to a house” (“Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs, Explained and made Intelligible to the English Reader”, by J Kelly.e).

 

The Crowing Hen blog is devoted to exploring gender norms and applications of gender codes in modern society. The goal is to gain a better understanding of what it means to be male, female or transgender in a world structured to ensure standards of normalized behavior.

 

About the Author
Jennifer Conway is a graduate student studying global communications and civil society at the American University of Paris.
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